Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Criminals with a Conscience

Some crime victims suffer for an extended period of time, for others it could be an eternity, but there are some scenarios in which crime victims actually benefit in the long run. Take San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services, a California based organization that was burglarized, only to wind up being bombarded with more donations than they could handle, as an example. It all began on the final night of the month in July, when Executive Director Candy Stallings received a troubling phone call. The caller informed her that the security alarm at the office had been activated, and the police were on their way.

After hanging up, Ms. Stallings decided she was headed for the office too, and arrived shortly after the authorities. Once on the scene, she was notified that the criminals had already come and gone. They had entered through the ceiling, and managed to make off with every computer on the premises. “It was pretty devastating,” Ms. Stallings said. “I thought that we’re never going to recover from this.” Ms. Stallings did recover though, just not in a way that she could have ever imagined. The next sequence of events proved to be stunning, and started just a few hours later.

Once Ms. Stallings returned home, she eventually received another phone call in the middle of the night. Unfathomably, it was the security company again, alerting her that the police were headed back due to another possible invasion. Ms. Stallings returned too, only to find that the criminals really did come back a second time. They successfully fled the scene again, but left some things behind this time. Each one of the six desk top computers had been returned, and one laptop too. If that was not enough, the piece of paper found inside of the laptop might have been the real shocker.

The piece of paper contained a short message expressing deep remorse for the crime, and lauded Ms. Stallings and her nonprofit for the services they provided. They were oblivious to the efforts of the center, even referring to their own actions as sick. “It’s unbelievable,” Ms. Stallings said. “Those persons that came into the office had a change of heart.” The famous note probably would have never been forgotten anyway, but there is absolutely no chance of that because Ms. Stallings plans to frame it in the office.

Although many strangers have never seen the note, they have gotten wind of the story, and the support for the organization that followed has been overwhelming. The offers for donations have come from several angles, eventually becoming too much to keep track of. As a result, Ms. Stallings had to set up a website specifically for donations. Furthermore, the word traveled to sexual assault victims who then reached out to the center for help, and amazingly all of the thanks goes to some criminals who brought on all of this attention.

The note read, “We had no idea what we were taking. Here’s your stuff back. We hope that you can continue making a difference in people’s lives. God bless.”

Lt. Paul Williams, who has been with the San Bernardino Police Department for more than 20 years, said he has never seen anything like it.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/09/us/california-stolen-goods-returned/index.html

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