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The Globe and Mail

Burglars return goods to non-profit – and leave apology note

Guilt is a powerful motivator, and you would probably feel pretty guilty if you robbed from people who help rape victims.

Burglars returned stolen electronics to the San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services Centre, a California non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of sexual and domestic assault, just hours after the theft.

They had clipped phone wires in a utility closet outside the centre and made their way through the office ceiling's crawlspace. Once inside, the thieves stole six computers, a laptop, and a bag of valuables.

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The centre's executive director, Candy Stallings, told CBS Los Angeles she received a phone call from her alarm company at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, who told her that they noticed a lot of motion inside the centre.

After two hours, the remorseful thieves returned all the stolen goods in a shopping cart with an apology note tucked inside the laptop.

"We had no idea what we were takeing [sic]," the note said. "We hope that you guys can continue to make a difference in peoples' live [sic]. God bless."

Ms. Stallings has worked at the centre for over 25 years. She said the burglary started out as "her worst nightmare," as the stolen computers were vital to the centre's operations.

"I don't know what to feel, one minute I'm devastated, and the next minute … wow, this is just incredible," Ms. Stallings said. She plans on framing the note from the burglars.

The centre needed $5,000 to cover the cost of the break-in. Their fundraising campaign on raised $6,975 in one day after stories appeared on CBS, ABC, and

Lt. Paul Williams of the San Bernardino Police Department told ABC 7 that he's never seen someone return an item out of guilt.

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Last year, a burglar returned a stolen digital camera and Xbox console to a Guelph, Ont. couple after having second thoughts. In the attached note, the thief apologized and asked them to forgive "the stranger who harmed you."

"I've been having a very tough time financially lately and I made the worst mistake of my life," the note read.

The burglar also attached $50 to repair a window screen. The couple, who didn't know that they had been robbed, found one of the window screens at the back of their house had been ripped.

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