19 Mar 2013

Thief returns $800 from 1980s Michigan burglary


A person who claims to have stolen $800 from a Barry County store about 30 years ago has repaid the money in cash -- with interest.

For 24 Hour News 8, the story began with a hard copy letter that arrived in the newsroom Monday morning. It bore no signature and no return address.

"I'm asking for help in locating a man that I owe the money," an anonymous person wrote in the letter.
In the letter addressed the Chanel 8 News and Sheriff, the writer admitted to breaking into what was then the Middle Mart on M-37 just north of Middleville about 30 years ago.
The self-proclaimed burglar didn't specify motive, only admitting to stealing cash from the store.

"It was around $800 or so," the letter specifies.
The letter also doesn't say what the money was used for.

But the anonymous writer did something those in the reporting business call burying the lead:

"I sent some intrist [interest] that's why it's 1200 I sent to the sheriff [sic]," the burglar wrote about halfway through the note.`

When 24 Hour News 8 placed a called to Barry County Undersheriff Bob Baker Monday morning, he hadn't yet checked the mail. But a short time later, he and member of the office staff opened an envelope addressed to the department with the word "confidential" written across it.

Inside was a letter like the one 24 Hour News 8 received and $1,200.
"Twelve $100 bills," Baker specified.

The department doesn't keep records on unsolved break-ins from three decades ago, but was was able to track down the owner of the store at the time. He sold the business in 1988 -- it's now Greg's Groceries -- and confirmed the store was broken into in the 1980s.
He also told authorties he was happy to get the money back, though he declined to talk to 24 Hour News 8.

"He was shocked just as much as everybody else was, 'cause this just does not happen every day," said Baker.

The sheriff's department is working on returning the money to the former owner.
As for the crime, no one at the sheriff's department is dusting the letter for prints. Baker said the statute of limitations on the crime ran out long ago and that the sheriff's department is not interested in re-opening the case.
The letter made it obvious that 30 years later, the writer isn't proud of the burglary.

"I can't begin to say how sorry iam but have lived with this guilt too long," reads part of the letter to 24 Hour News 8. "If you do find him [the owner], please tell him that I was afoolish stupid man when I did that and iam sorrie [sic]."
The undersheriff said the burglar was probably not a career criminal, but instead someone who made a mistake and wanted to try to make up for it.
"From the legal standpoint, the time has gone by and especially if this has bothered you for 30 years, I think you've suffered enough," Baker said. "I would say that you've made amends." 

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