Guilt-Burdened Shoplifter Pays For Stolen Hammer… 25 Years Later

Earlier this week, we asked you to opine on the situation of a Target customer who had inadvertently walked out of the store without paying for a DVD. Many of you said he should return the disc or contact Target to pay for it. Now comes the story of another shopper so burdened with guilt that he recently sent money to a hardware store from which he’d stolen a hammer decades earlier.

The owners of a Johnstown, PA, hardware store recently received a letter and some cash from an anonymous shoplifter who says the hammer was pilfered around 25 to 30 years ago.

“I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. Enclosed is $45 to cover the hammer plus a little extra for interest,” reads the unsigned letter. “I’m sorry I stole it, but have changed my ways.”

The hardware store folks, who donated the money to the Salvation Army, say this is the first time a shoplifter has paid for a purloined item in the 50 years they’ve owned the business.

Anonymous thief pays for stolen hammer, decades later [Reuters]


Edit Your Comment

  1. rpm773 says:

    (Chief Clancy Wiggum voice): Book him, boys.

  2. penuspenuspenus says:

    20-25 years from now we’ll all do the same thing for the MPAA and RIAA.

    • TasteyCat says:

      No, they are the devil. If only they chose an alternate course of action, rather than one which alienated their customer base.

      • penuspenuspenus says:

        Like trying to catch thieves?

        • thelion says:

          Psh…whatever. I would feel no guilt over downloading a few songs. If I downloaded songs, I wouldn’t buy CDs…if I didn’t download songs, I STILL wouldn’t buy CDs so it makes no difference.

        • TasteyCat says:

          If the punishment fits the crime, then there’s an argument. $1.5 million for 24 songs does not qualify. RIAA/MPAA are like Blockbuster. They had the opportunity to get on the online boat, but declined to do so and ended up missing it.

          • Griking says:

            I have no sympathy for the people who got caught and sued after the first few high profile lawsuits. Boohoo, the punishment was more than they thought was fair. Don’t steal and you don’t have to worry about it. In Iran they’d cut off your hands.

            • DariusC says:

              Piracy is not stealing. Theft involves stealing the original, piracy makes a copy. Please educate yourself before forming such a rash opinion.

              • Wombatish says:

                Unless you’re buying all of your music on the studio tapes, your ‘original’ is nothing but a fancily printed copy (and that’s assuming a physical CD, which is increasingly unlikely).

                The “backup copy” argument is the LAMEST attempt at argument the freeloaders who attempt to ride along with the piracy movement have ever tried, and the fact that you chose it as your starting ball is sad.

                I’m not for piracy by any means (I support more open licencing, personally) but I understand some of it’s tenants and frustrations. Clearly you do not, and just want free music. Please stop speaking for pirates.

                • DariusC says:

                  This is simply a matter of opinion and not right and wrong. I purchase games and music that I want and use. Besides, why pay for something that takes a fraction of a penny to make? An artist spends a few minutes/hours/etc writing a song and sells it for an unlimited number of copies allowing them to make millions?

                  There is a reason people don’t buy music anymore… people don’t want to pay for music. There are good people out there who make music and distribute it freely because they enjoy it, not because they want to cash in on America.

                  Shame on you.

    • humphrmi says:

      Yes. That’s exactly what we’ll all do.

    • rawley69 says:

      I rather pay the artists directly.

  3. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    …this is the first time a shoplifter has paid for a purloined item in the 50 years they’ve owned the business.

    Wow, so have they never caught a shoplifter, or just never prosecuted one?

    • stevied says:

      NO. This is the first time the shoplifter has admitted to their guilt after getting away from the store without a hammer planted in their own head.

  4. Big Mama Pain says:

    Hey, this is kind of like the investor who paid back $7.5 billion dollars that they gained in the Madoff scandal..

  5. jiarby says:

    Ahhh…. Step #9 !!

  6. TBGBoodler says:

    I work in the hospitality industry and we just recently had someone anonymously send us $20 for an ashtray they walked away with more than 25 years ago.

  7. fuceefacee says:

    At Walmart they would have checked to see if he had a receipt.

    /just sayin’

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Since he would have had it in his pocket or under his coat, they wouldn’t have known he had it, therefore would not have checked for a receipt. They only check if you’re holding a bag or merchandise. /see why that doesn’t work?

  8. jefffowler says:

    As Earl Hickey would say, “Karma is a bitch” I wonder what number it was on his list. #267 pay for stolen hammer from local hardware store

  9. Plasmafox says:

    A friend of mine once accidentally walked out of a store with something he didn’t pay for. He made the mistake of walking back in and trying to return it.

    They had him arrested and he got railroaded. Their attitude was “Why should we believe you? Just take responsibility for what you did!” just passively assuming he was guilty. Nobody involved gave him the slightest benefit of a doubt. I think it was because he was a teenager at the time, but it was still unacceptable. I learned my lesson that day. If I accidentally steal something, it’s mine. Not because I don’t want to return it, because I do believe that to be the right thing, but because if the store decides I stole it on purpose I can’t defend myself.

    It’s sad that I can’t do the right thing for fear of being punished for it, but that’s the country we live in.

    • BayardMozie says:

      This is precisely why I was one of the people (in the minority apparently) who said that guy who accidentally wasn’t charged for a CD/DVD at Target should just keep it, rather than returning it.

      • dg says:

        Nope, I’d agree. If he left with it and didn’t get charged – then keep it. Going back is more of a risk than keeping it because stores tend to file charges and call the cops when you try to do the right thing…

        He didn’t INTEND to walk with it, so screw it…

    • arcticJKL says:

      Anonymous, return it anonymously.

  10. Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

    Jeez, now if I could just get the 40% who don;t pay for their ambulance rides to feel guilty.

    • Mythandros says:

      Do you lift their wallets, like the paramedics in the movies do?

      Sorry, just being cheeky!

      Merry Christmas!

    • chatterboxwriting says:

      I’m trying to pay for my ambulance ride, but $970 for a 2-mile ride to the hospital is a bit much. I walked into the ambulance, they took my BP and checked my blood sugar. I don’t think that’s worth $970. Unfortunately, I do feel obligated to pay my bills, so I am paying the company in installments.

      • Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

        If you walked out to the ambo, contact billing and tell them you want to be charged for a BLS (basic life support) trip. explain that your call was not an ALS trip and you would have refused transport if the medic had adequately advised you of your options.

  11. The Marionette says:

    What’s this…….. “guilt” you speak of?

  12. do-it-myself says:

    Sounds like an episode of My Name Is Earl.

  13. RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

    “Now comes the story of another shopper…”

    Didn’t a few people reference this hammer story IN the comments on the pickle ornament story a couple days ago? I didn’t think this was new.

  14. Sollus says:

    Sweet, thanks for using my picture!