When a man snatched a wallet from a passerby’s hand, Tess Aboughoushe ran after the thief. When she caught him, she invited him for coffee. Because the Canadian woman felt it was the right thing to do.
It was February 14. Aboughoushe was heading back to work from the chiropractor in downtown Edmonton, Canada. The mugger had asked another woman for money and when she pulled out her wallet, he grabbed it and ran.
“I saw the man and the woman on the side of the road and as I was walking past, she calls out that her wallet has been stolen. ‘Stop! Thief!’ Legitimately, just like a movie scene,” Aboughoushe told CNN. “He was running in front of me and I didn’t really stop to consider personal safety issues.”
Aboughoushe chased him down a couple of blocks, briefly lost sight of him and found him behind a dumpster in an alley.
“He started walking towards me and apologizing: ‘Here take the wallet. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m so sorry.’
And he reaches out the wallet to pass it to me.”
The victim arrived shortly after to retrieve her pocketbook. She hugged Aboughoushe, thanked her and asked her to walk back together to the main street. She declined:
“If I walked with her I’ll be turning my back on the man who tried to steal.”
To defuse the situation, Aboughoushe did something unexpected: She offered to buy the man a cup of coffee at a nearby shop. During their 15-minute chat at the café, he explained his desperation.
“He had come up to town the day before… and his friend basically abandoned him,” Aboughoushe said. “He left all his stuff in her vehicle. He got the coat from the homeless shelter… and he was asking for 30 bucks to get the Greyhound back.”
Aboughoushe thought the man wasn’t your typical thief. He returned the wallet and was very remorseful.
“I don’t know if [his reasoning] was real or not. It really didn’t matter at that point… It made the most sense and had the best positive outcome for everyone if I took him to a place where he could relax and offered him a coffee.”