Her kind of town, Chicago is thanks to a caring crook
There is honor among thieves, the saying goes. And, apparently, there sometimes is honor among thieves and victims. Just ask Kathleen Kjolhaug, a kindergarten teacher at Clearbrook-Gonvick (Minn.) School. Being a kindergarten teacher requires com...
There is honor among thieves, the saying goes.
And, apparently, there sometimes is honor among thieves and victims. Just ask Kathleen Kjolhaug, a kindergarten teacher at Clearbrook-Gonvick (Minn.) School.
Being a kindergarten teacher requires compassion and understanding. At least one crook exhibited those same characteristics toward her.
Here's the story:
Kjolhaug and her family were visiting their son, Luke, who attends Wheaton College in a Chicago suburb. One morning at breakfast in the hotel, she left her purse behind. When she returned to retrieve it a few minutes later, the purse was gone. Stolen.
She wasn't concerned about the money. The purse contained just $30 in change, to be used for the tollbooths on the return trip.
"I thought, 'I'm going to be a victim of identify theft,'" Kjolhaug said. "I had my driver's license in there, my original Social Security card, a few credit cards, a checkbook and a savings passbook.
"I figured our whole line of credit would be ruined, and it would take years for us to straighten it out."
The potential losses weren't just financial. The purse also contained immunization records of her children and "a spattering of photos of our kids from the time they were born, many of which didn't have duplicates and were irreplaceable."
So, it was a long, dreary, 12-hour ride back to their rural Clearbrook home.
But, a day after arriving home, she received a phone call from the Clearbrook post office. Her purse had been dropped in a postal service outgoing mailbox back in the Chicago suburb. It would be packaged and returned to her in the mail.
The $30 was gone. And so was a cubic zirconium "diamond" ring that was worth $1.
Everything else was intact. Kjolhaug's reaction?
"I wanted to go be friends with the person who took my purse," she said.
Her initial response wasn't anger, or even relief. It was thanks. Her personal records could have been used for a bigger financial gain. Or, the thief could have trashed the purse's contents.
"My guess is that she went through the purse and saw everything that was there and could identify with me," she said. "I say 'she' because I figured she knew the purse belonged to another mom and knew what damage it would do if she didn't get it back.
"I felt sorry for the person because she obviously needed some money."
Instead of using personal records to steal more or destroying the evidence, the crook risked being caught by dropping the purse in the mail collection box.
"Who would even think of doing that?" Kjolhaug wondered. "The person didn't want to hurt; she wanted to restore."
So, Kjolhaug would like to thank her compassionate crook.
"It's obvious this was just a really decent person who didn't want to do it but probably had to resort to stealing to survive," Kjolhaug said.
"I've never heard of anything like this before."
Bakken reports on local news and writes a column. Reach him at 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or email@example.com .