Thief returns $800, with an apology, about 1980s Mich. burglary

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An anonymous thief sent an apology note and $1,200 in $100 bills to the Barry County sheriff's department in Hastings, Mich., hoping to repay the person he stole from in the 1980s.

(CBS/AP) HASTINGS, Mich. - A burglar who stole $800 from a western Michigan store three decades ago has repaid the money - plus interest!

Guilt can be a useful emotion.

The anonymous thief sent a note and $1,200 in $100 bills to the Barry County sheriff's department in Hastings, and the shipment arrived on Monday, WOOD-TV reported.

The writer admitted breaking into the Middle Mart in Thornapple Township north of Middleville about 30 years ago.

In a letter packed with emotion and spelling errors, the writer asks for "help in locating a man" to whom the writer owes the money.

"Anyways, I did a very bad thing that I am shamed of and have lived with this guilt," the writer said. "I can't begin to say how sorry iam but have lived with this guilt too long," the letter went on to say. "If you do find him, please tell him that I was afoolish stupid man when I did that and iam sorrie."

The letter was signed but had no return address.

The $1,200, although it did cover some interest, falls short of making up for the entire loss in the dollar's purchasing power over the intervening years. The stolen $800 would be worth about $1,800 today, based on changes in the consumer price index.

WOOD-TV said the former owner of the store, now called Greg's Get-N-Go, confirmed it was broken into in the 1980s. The store was sold in 1988.

Undersheriff Bob Baker said the letter and cash came as quite a surprise.

"This doesn't happen every day," Baker said. He said the department isn't interested in reopening the case because of the time that has passed.