Every once in a while, a call occurs that makes even the most experienced police officers pause and reflect. That call can renew our faith in humanity and make us think about the negative biases we all carry around as human beings.
Constable David Swaine of East Division began his shift on Dec. 9th in the usual way - a cup of coffee, some routine patrol, responding to calls, issuing traffic tickets, talking to citizens. During some down time, he delivered Lock It Or Lose It pamphlets on car windshields near a store in Newcastle.
A little old lady came over to ask for help. After loading her store purchases into her car, she returned the cart and then drove away. Once at home, she realized she had left the purse in the cart. She rushed back to the store, her heart pounding. The purse was gone.
She asked Cst. Swaine to find the THIEF. That purse contained all of her identification, her credit cards and cash for Christmas shopping. Cst. Swaine took down her details and the elderly woman nervously went home, hoping against hope the purse would be found.
Cst. Swaine quickly checked the area. He talked to the manager of the store and asked to see the surveillance video. There on that video the THIEF appears - an older male who bicycles over to the cart and grabs the purse.
The manager and staff were disgusted with what they saw. They wanted the THIEF captured and brought to justice. They wanted the purse returned to that poor old lady.
With a clear description of the SUSPECT/THIEF, Cst. Swaine began scanning the nearby streets and the back of retail stores. He even stopped a GO bus to ask if anyone has seen the SUSPECT/THIEF.
Cst. Swaine then drove to the victims house to share with her the description of the SUSPECT/THIEF and update her on his activities.
He was shocked to see the little old lady safely at home holding the missing purse. A nice older gentleman had just dropped it off and then bicycled away, she said.
That nice older gentleman grabbed the purse to return it to its rightful owner. He had opened the contents to confirm where the rightful owner lived and then took it to her. She must be worried sick, he thought.
This THIEF has only been living in Newcastle for a short time, so was not familiar with the streets. He had to stop at a local store and ask for directions.
When this THIEF arrived at her door, she was obviously frightened. When she heard his story and then examined the contents of the purse, her heart flooded with joy and appreciation. She gave that elderly gentleman a $100 tip - the least she could do.
The elderly woman thanked Cst. Swaine for being at the right place at the right time to help her.
With a smile on his face, Cst. Swaine returned to the store to update the manager and the employees. As he walked into the store, one of the staff asked " DID YOU GET THE GUY????"
After recounting the tale, there was a great pause. The look on the face of the staff members was amazing. One of them said " I can't believe all the terrible things I was thinking about this person."
Cst. Swaine thanked them for their co-operation and assistance. He then closed the loop and tracked down the Good Samaritan.
The elderly gentleman didnt have much. He lived in a very small house with very little in it. After confirming his side of the story, Cst. Swaine thanked the elderly gentleman and told him that "what he had done today had a wonderful impact on a number of people".
The elderly gentleman looked at Cst. Swaine and stated, in a nonchalant way, "I was just doing the RIGHT thing."
A simple act of kindness that has resonated with so many people at this time of year.
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