‘This doesn’t give me the right to victimize anyone’: Suspect returns stolen clarinet with apology note

Updated: Nov. 20, 2019 at 6:24 PM EST

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Just in time for the holidays, a thief who stole from a Richmond music store, had a change of heart.

Richmond Police released a surveillance video from the Music Tree School off of Stony Point Road, on the city’s south side. NBC12 chose to blur the video of the suspect since it’s unclear whether he’ll face charges, at this point. He can still be arrested, if located.

You can see the suspect swipe a cell phone from behind the counter, while the owner’s back was turned, on Monday morning. The suspect then stole a clarinet before leaving the store, concealing it in a bag.

Bill Hargis, who owns the business, said the thief first bought an $8 clarinet, likely as a method of distraction. The suspect went after the cell phone and the clarinet, the few times Hargis turned his back during the transaction.

Hargis said the clarinet was 22 years old. It was given as a gift to its owner by the man’s grandmother, when he was a teenager. Hargis said the man was devastated to hear the sentimental item was stolen.

About 15 hours after RPD shared the video on social media, Hargis found a delivery left outside the front door. A bag containing the stolen items, and an apology note, was left on the ground.

The apology note was typed, and reads in part:

“Please forgive ... I have been victimized myself ... my bills are piling up ... my wife mobility is close to nothing ... I’m struggling but this doesn’t give me the right to victimize anyone ... I’m sorry ... I wouldn’t want to happen to me ... shamefully I am to my grave.”

“It was sad,” said Hargis. "He felt regretful... He’s bringing (the stolen items) back because he felt guilty about it. There’s hope for people if they do that. I feel that maybe there’s hope for him.”

Hargis said he’s most happy he could return the clarinet to its owner.

After a clarinet and cell phone were stolen from a Richmond music store, the suspect returned the items with an apology note.(NBC12)

The note also included a historic quote which was attributed online to various people:

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

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