Belinda Agyare has spent the last two years saving up thousands of dollars to pay for her children's college tuition.
She had saved about $4,000 and was planning to take the money to the bank when a thief snatched the cash-stuffed jar earlier this month.
"I was just saving money for my kids," Agyare told ABC station WABC in an interview Monday.
Surveillance video captured the moment an unidentified man, last seen wearing a purple shirt and a black baseball cap, comes into B&B African Caribbean Market on May 8 and distracts the clerk while he reaches behind the counter, nabs the tip jar and then flees.
"That was our hardworking savings and, like, he just took it within 10 minutes," said Agyare's 19-year-old daughter, Melody Adu, who just finished her freshman year at Howard University.
The New York City Police Department on Monday released an image from the surveillance footage showing the man, who is wanted for questioning, and asked for the public's help in identifying him.
Anyone with information about his identity is urged to call the New York City Police Department's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish.