Thieves Steal Computers From Charity, Return Them Next Day

Friday, 09 Aug 2013 09:40 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Some thieves in California apparently had a change of heart earlier this month after stealing computer equipment from a charity and returned the stolen haul the next day.

Candy Stallings, executive director of San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services, was shocked when she received a call from police on July 31 saying there had been a break-in at the charity's headquarters.

Thieves had apparently cut a hole in the ceiling and snatched several computer monitors, towers, and laptops.

But what was more surprising was what happened the next morning.

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"All my stuff was in front of the door," Stallings told NBC Los Angeles. "There was a shopping cart, and there were the PCs that were taken, there was the laptop — everything was there."

There was also a handwritten note.

"We had no idea what we were takeing," it read, with misspellings. "Here your stuff back we hope that you guys can continue to make a difference in peoples live. God bless."


"This is the first time in my career I have seen the return of stolen items," San Bernardino Police Lt. Paul Williams told NBC Los Angeles. "It appears the guilt of taking the property caused the return of the items."

Stallings said the Sexual Assault Services building is not clearly marked so victims don't feel embarrassed to be seen walking inside and asking for help. She said a police officer had told her some transients outside the building the night of the burglary were asking about what happened and the officer reportedly explained how the service helped people. Then the loot magically reappeared.

"We were all pretty shocked [at the return and the note]. You've got to be kidding me. I was in disbelief, I got chills, I got very emotional," she said. "I started thinking that even though I was upset with the damage they caused inside, because it was very costly, I just thought sometimes people make bad choices and it was compassion that brought those items back to us.

"I've been at this agency for 26 years and we have never ever had something that touched us like this."

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Despite the thieves' change of heart, police said, when found, they will still be prosecuted for stealing the items in the first place.

"They still committed the crime and it is still considered a burglary," San Bernardino Police Department Sgt. Vicki Cervantes told ABCNews.com. "It doesn't negate that. There may be a lessened sentence, but the crime and charges are still the same." 

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