Man's Failure to Tip Bartender Leads to His Arrest in Burning of Key West Landmark

A man's failure to tip a bartender led to his arrest in the burning of a Key West, Florida, landmark buoy.

A bartender at Irish Kevin's on Duval Street, Cameron Briody, said a 21-year-old man ordered three drinks on New Year's Eve but did not leave a tip. The impression the man left allowed staff to track him down once police released webcam video showing people burning a Christmas tree. The man was later identified by police as Skylar Jacobson, of Henrietta, Texas, according to Miami's WFOR TV.

The arson damaged the buoy marking the southernmost point in the continental United States, resulting in over $5,000 in damages, according to the Miami Herald.

The incident happened at about 3:30 a.m. on New Year's Day and was filmed on multiple surveillance cameras in the area, WPLG Local 10 reported. The flames caused a burned scar on the buoy approximately 3 feet wide and 7 feet tall.

One man acted as a lookout while the other set fire to the tree, police said.

The incident sent the island's "coconut telegraph" gossip chain into high alert, according to the Miami Herald.

Briody watched the video police released, recognizing Jacobson as the man who stiffed him on New Year's Eve.

"I knew immediately that I had served him and that he had used a card, so his name would be on the slips," Briody told the Miami Herald.

Daylin Starks, the bar's general manager, reviewed recordings from the cameras that survey the bar every night. He was able to match credit card receipts to time-stamped footage of the man and a 22-year-old friend.

"We could follow them the whole time, in and out of the bar," Starks said. "We could see them getting rejected from all the girls they were trying to hit on."

The 22-year-old was identified as David Perkins Jr. of Leesburg, Florida, WPLG Local 10 reported.

Perkins turned himself in on Thursday, according to WFOR TV.

Arson, Key West, Southernmost Point Buoy Damage
A famous Key West buoy marking the southernmost point in the continental United States was recently damaged by arson, resulting in over $5,000 in damages. Above, the concrete buoy is seen on March 23, 2004, in Key West, Florida. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Armed with their identifications and matching their movements to the vandalism down the street, police swiftly announced arrest warrants for the vandalism suspects, and city workers quickly restored the 20-ton concrete monument, which proclaims it stands just 90 miles from Cuba. Key West visitors couldn't wait to pose for more pictures at the spot.

"We've all been that age and made dumb mistakes, and we just learn from them." Starks told the Associated Press on Tuesday. "So I hope that's what they do is learn from the mistake."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.