Boy Scout troop’s tip jar was stolen. A tattoo parlor pays it forward.

Boy Scout Troop 59 could be excused for not feeling the holiday spirit this week.

The boys were busily selling Christmas trees in a north Elk Grove parking lot on Sunday afternoon, said Chris Joyce, who oversees the troop’s administration. When no one was looking, a Grinch of a person stole $150 to $200 nestled in the clear plastic container sitting on a shelf outside a shed.

Joyce said he didn’t suspect the tips, which go toward a summer trip to the Santa Clara mountains, had been stolen by a scout or parent, but was otherwise at a loss as to who could have taken them.

“One minute it was there, the next minute it was gone,” he said. “We have no idea who took it.”

That didn’t sit right with the folks Emerald Tattoo & Piercing, a tenant in the same shopping center as the scouts off Elk Grove Florin Road.

boy scouts
Emerald Tattoo and Piercing operations manager Russ McSwain gives Troop 59 a $200 check after someone stole from the Boy Scouts’ tip jar. Josh Hughes

Emerald employees walked over to the troop with a check for $200 on Tuesday night, exhausting the last of the tattoo parlor’s winter charity fund on what owner Josh “Red” Hughes said was a worthy cause.

“They’re good neighbors; they’re good kids,” said Hughes, a former Boy Scout. “Our customers have put us in a position where we’re able to afford to do things like that, so really it’s our customers giving back to the community, not us.”

In exchange for its philanthropy, Emerald Tattoo & Piercing gets word-of-mouth advertising more valuable than anything $200 could buy on Google, Hughes said. Troop 59 also gave the shop a free tree as a token of their gratitude.

If there’s a badge for street smarts, the scouts have earned it the hard way. One of the boys’ fathers cut a slot through the side of the shed leading to the tip jar inside, Joyce said, and troop leaders will regularly empty out the bin.

“To have that amount of money get (stolen) was really kind of a shock for us,” Joyce said. “It’s a shame it had to happen, but it’s a good lesson learned.”

Benjy Egel: 916-321-1052, @BenjyEgel