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10 Heartwarming Times Thieves Had Second Thoughts

by Domenico De Luca
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Not surprisingly, being the victim of theft can be deeply scarring. Burglary victims have been known to suffer sleeplessness and anxiety for months afterwards. Some street robbery victims still show the effects of their traumatic experience a full 9 months after an incident.

SEE ALSO: 10 Heartwarming Stories To Restore Your Faith In Humanity

That is why it is especially wonderful and heartwarming when the impossible happens and a victim of theft is not only reunited with their stuff but gets an apology, too.

As the list below shows, some thieves can have a change of heart.

10 Thief Returns Money With Apology 11 Years After Robbery

Photo Credit: Guilherme Torelly / Flickr

In the early 2000s, the InterAsian Market and Deli in Nashville, Tennessee was robbed. A man pulled a gun on the clerk and took off $300 dollars richer. He was never caught. Then over a decade later, something wonderful happened.

One day a man showed up insisting that Somboon Wu, the son of the owner, take an envelope marked “OWNER.” He was wary, but finally let the mysterious man leave the envelope on the counter. Later, when his father Keosavanh Xayarath opened it, he found a note of apology and $300 dollars in cash.

In the note, the writer/robber explained that he robbed Keosavanh’s store more than a decade ago, when he was on drugs, and is now trying to make amends.

Needless to say, Wu was ecstatic, “You know, we get cynical. I get cynical … a lot. But this just slaps you in the face. There are good people out there, and they deserve a second chance.”

Wu and his father graciously paid tribute to the man who robbed them a decade ago on a post to their Instagram page, “To the anonymous person, we want to tell you all is forgiven…We don’t care about the money. We are more inspired and touched by your act. We hope you find peace in life and prosperity. Best wishes!”[1]

9 Thieves Return Wrestling Belt To Ailing Boy

Photo Credit: Tony / Flickr

Timothy “Timmy” Vick Jr. is a 5 year-old boy with autism. In October of 2018, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Two thieves who specialized in stealing packages from people’s front porches had no idea that one of those packages contained a WWE wrestling belt belonging to Timothy.

At the time, the belt was on the front porch of Sergio Moriera’s house—he refurbishes and customizes memorabilia, “(Timmy’s) father doesn’t make a lot of money…But he wanted to give his son an amazing gift, and I told him I would do everything for free. I said, ‘Just ship it over and I’ll do everything you want on the belt, and he’ll have the belt of a lifetime.”

When the belt was taken, Sergio was devastated, “I want them to know they took hope from a 5-year-old boy who is looking forward to that item coming back to him…You stole that from him. You broke a child’s heart.”

Timothy’s father shared what that belt meant to his son, “Timmy would not go anywhere without that belt…Most kids have blankies, he had a belt.”

All hope was lost. Then something wonderful and unexpected happened, “When I saw their faces, they were crying and they came and put the tote down, my guard went down and I realized what was happening,” Sergio said. The thieves returned the belt.

Apparently, the two thieves were thrown out of a friend’s apartment after the friend saw the news report of the theft on TV. The two women apologized to Sergio, saying that they were trying to kick a drug habit and were currently homeless.

Timothy’s father was thrilled about the returned belt, “It’s one of those things you always hear about, those crazy stories about people, and you never think it’ll happen to you. I’m still taken aback, to be honest.”[2]

8 Restaurant Gets Their Metal Pig Back

Photo Credit: Jung Moon / Flickr

The Iowa Chop House in Iowa City, Iowa has a metal pig on their patio they call “Choppy.” One day, he was stolen.

The owner of the eatery, George Etre, and his employees, were eager to get Choppy back, posting on their Facebook page, “We love Choppy and we miss him.” Jokingly, the Chop House offered a reward for Choppy’s return—free water.

They had the crime on surveillance video and were determined to release it if their beloved metal pig was not back in his rightful spot in short order.

Happily, the thieves reconsidered and returned Choppy with an attached note, which read, “To the owner of Choppy, We are dumb. Sorry we took your pig. Please accept our apology.”

When the news of Choppy’s return broke, the Iowa Chop House got congratulatory messages from all across the state. Delighted by his return, the restaurant celebrated with a week long discount on beer.[3]

7 Thief Returns Money Taken From Lost Wallet

Photo Credit: Alexander Baxevanis / Flickr

A research project conducted in the UK, from 2005-2010, revealed that 9 million Britons had lost their wallets over the course of those 5 years. Among those people, less than 25% ever got them back.

Susan McNabb of Arkansas forgot her wallet while she was shopping at Walmart. There was $160 dollars in it at the time. When she returned, the wallet was still there, but the money was gone.

She reported it to the police. A short while later, she received a call from them with startling news—the thief had dropped by the police station and returned her money. A note attached read, “To the lady that left her wallet at Walmart…please forgive me as I always strive to have integrity, and that day I failed miserably.”

McNabb was so over the moon at the news that she pledged to spend the returned money helping out others.[4]

6 Bad Karma Causes Ketchup Thief To Reconsider

Photo Credit: raindog808 / Flickr

Ever tempted to steal a bottle of ketchup from a restaurant? Judging by the post-theft experiences of one condiment swiping criminal, it is just not worth it.

Maria DiLeo, owner of DiLeo’s Perkins restaurant, in Lacey Township, New Jersey, hardly noticed she was short one bottle of ketchup when, one day, she found two sitting just outside her establishment’s front door.

In an attached letter, the thief confessed to stealing one bottle of ketchup. The thief also revealed why they decided to return it along with an extra bottle, “I hope returning two new bottles will restore some [luck] for me, and I can stop carrying around this guilt. Again, I’m really sorry I inconvenienced you the same way my life has been inconveniencing me.” The letter was signed, “an awful person.”

DiLeo was more than forgiving, saying, “I mean, let’s be for real, if this is the worst thing you did and you’re already driving a car …. you’re in good shape.” She even felt bad about the whole thing, adding, “I’m looking at it going, ‘Oh my God…I feel terrible.’”

Posting on a Lacey Township Facebook page, DiLeo reached out to the thief, writing, “To the person that returned this. You are forgiven…Hope all goes better for you lesson learned.”

In the end, DiLeo had the thief’s apology letter framed. As for the two bottles of ketchup, they will remain a pair in “tribute” to a bad deed thoughtfully undone.[5]

5 Financially Troubled Man Rethinks Burglary


We are supposed to feel the safest and most comfortable in our homes. It is our refuge—where we can finally relax and take it easy.

When a stranger breaks in, though, and steals some of our belongings, that safety and comfort can temporarily disappear. But, what if you did not know you were robbed until the burglar was kind enough to clue you in?

This is exactly what happened to one family in Guelph, Ontario, Canada back in the summer of 2012. They were robbed while out walking their dog. It was not until the next morning that they realized something was up. “They were surprised…They didn’t know their home had been violated,” explained Guelph Police Sgt. Doug Pflug.

That is because the burglar had a change of heart and returned—leaving the stolen items and an apology letter outside the family’s front door. In the letter, the repentant thief apologized, “I can’t put it into words how sorry I am…This is the first and last time I will ever commit a crime… Please find it in your hearts to forgive the stranger who harmed you.”

The thief even left an extra $50 to repair the family’s screen door that was busted in the process of gaining entry to the home. Ashamed, the thief also promised to perform community service to “…partially atone…” for the burglary.[6]

4 ‘Nanogirl’ Gets Robot Back

Photo Credit: Amber Case / Flickr

Nanotechnology is the, “…understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1–100nm, where unique physical properties make novel applications possible.”

A nm (nanometer) is one billionth of a meter. To give you an idea of how small that is, a human hair is 50,000 to 100,000 nm thick.

Dr. Michelle Dickson of Ponsonby, New Zealand is known as “Nanogirl” because of the research she does into nanotechnology.

On Saturday Sept 28th of 2019, her office was robbed. The thieves made away with quite a haul—children’s robots, cameras and science equipment.

Then, 2 days later, Dr. Dickson found some of the stolen items waiting for her at her front gate wrapped in a blanket. She credited a national newspaper and social media for the items being returned, “After the story you guys ran, and people sharing the pictures, some time between 9pm [on Sunday] and 7am [on Monday], some of the items were returned to us…”

Thankfully, because 70% of the stolen items were returned, she can still go ahead with a planned national tour of schools.

Turns out, Dr.Dickson/Nanogirl also believes in, “…the good of people.”[7]

3 Loan Sharks Made Him Steal, 3 Month-Old Baby Made Him Give It Back

Photo Credit: I. Yakubovich / Flickr

A man in Vietnam said he snatched a woman’s bag out of her car because he was desperate to pay off the loan sharks who were threatening his family.

Inside the bag was the equivalent of $4,600 US and 2 iPhones. The woman reported the theft to police. Shortly thereafter, most of the money and both iPhones were returned.
In a translation of a note found inside the package along with the money and phones, the man admitted to keeping some of the cash to pay off the loan sharks, but said that he returned everything else because, “I felt repentant for the whole afternoon. How could I face my little baby?”

Turns out, he and his wife had just had a baby and facing his young child after what he did was just too much for this thief. He kept what he needed to protect his family from the loan sharks and gave back the rest.

The female victim was so touched by the thief’s regret and his troubling story that she hoped that the police would drop the case. She was even concerned that the man would not be able to enjoy a Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival that was coming up with a potential stint in jail hanging over his head.

In the end, the police said that they would take the victim’s wishes into account.[8]

2 Armed Hold Up Man Returns For A Hug

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr

It is never too late to do the right thing.

Just ask Alex Holmes, 17, of Chicago, Illinois. One early morning, he used a BB gun—that looked like a real gun—to hold up a Dunkin’ Donuts. But, guilt got to him quickly.

“This is not the way God wants me to do my thing. … I had the money in my hand and I can’t look at it,” Holmes confessed.

He went back to the same Dunkin’ Donuts, a day later, and returned the money. He tried hugging the woman behind the counter, but she refused. “She was crying and I don’t like to see people sad. She was scared for her life,” Holmes said.

Even though she could not understand English, the remorseful Holmes wrote a note to her, then and there, apologizing for what he had done.

Caught on security store cameras, it was not long before police picked him up. He could have faced 15 years behind bars. Instead, he was put on probation for 2 years and credited for the 42 days he eventually served in county jail.

Holmes’ change of heart might just have saved him from spending his entire 20s in prison. Luckily, he did the right thing before it was too late.[9]

1 Thief Returns Piece Of Stonehenge 60 Years Later

Photo Credit: mari / Flickr

Stonehenge is a giant 4,000 to 5,000 year-old stone monument located in what today is known as Salisbury, England.

Though there are other theories about why Stonehenge was built, members of the Stonehenge Riverside Project believe it was built to mark the, “Unification of Britain” to celebrate how people on the island used houses, pottery and other items whose styles resembled one another.

Robert Phillips, 90, of Miami-Dade, was so fond of Stonehenge that back in 1958, he took a piece of it home with him. That’s right, Phillips took a thin, meter long piece of Stonehenge and kept it for 60 years.

Back in 1958, Phillips was employed by a diamond cutting company named Van Moppes. They were contracted to drill holes in a portion of Stonehenge that had developed cracks. They inserted metal rods into those holes to provide extra support. At some point during that job, Phillips sneaked off with a portion of the famous stone.

Heather Sebire, English Heritage’s curator for Stonehenge, summed up the group’s surprise at getting back the important piece of Stonehenge, saying, “The last thing we ever expected was to get a call from someone in America telling us they had a piece of Stonehenge. We are very grateful to the Phillips family for bringing this intriguing piece of Stonehenge back home.”

Phillips’ son, Lewis, tried to smooth things over, “Our father has always been interested in archaeology…It was his wish that it be returned to Stonehenge. We are all delighted the core has come home, particularly as it is now being used to further important research”.[10]

About The Author: I love to write—screenplays, songs, short stories and, of course, lists. Loves are film, music, politics, hockey.

fact checked by Jamie Frater