Anonymous thief pays for stolen hammer, decades later

Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:52pm EST
 
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PITTSBURGH (Reuters Life!) - An anonymous thief sent an envelope of cash to a family-owned supply store in western Pennsylvania to pay for a hammer stolen decades ago, one of the store owners said on Monday.

The cash arrived at Central Contractors Supply Co. in Johnstown, Pa., with a handwritten note saying the hammer was stolen 25 to 30 years ago, said Lynne Gramling, who owns the store with her father.

"I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. Enclosed is $45 to cover the hammer plus a little extra for interest," said the unsigned letter dated December 6. "I'm sorry I stole it, but have changed my ways."

While plenty of merchandise has disappeared since the family bought the store some 50 years ago, this is the first time anyone has paid for a stolen item, Gramling said.

Gramling took the money to a nearby shopping mall, where her father was volunteering as a Salvation Army bell ringer.

"I went up and dropped the money in his kettle," she said, adding that the money was "really a lot more than a hammer would cost."

"He was very generous," she said.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering in Pittsburgh; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)