BRITISH COLUMBIA

Teacher Hunts Down Thief, Scolds Him, Then Gives Him A Hug

12/08/2015 12:05 EST

rebekah o hanley

Rebekah O'Hanley, seen with her dog, returned from an appointment to find her car ransacked. (Photo: Facebook)

This is what we call a great ending.

Rebekah O'Hanley was running late for a medical appointment last month in Salmon Arm, B.C. She tossed her wallet and phone on the dashboard of her car before running inside — but in her rush, she forgot to lock the doors.

About 20 minutes later, the elementary school teacher came back outside to a ransacked car.

"Everything was ripped apart," she told The Huffington Post B.C. in a phone interview Monday. "The dashboard was torn off, stuff strewn everywhere, my seat pushed back — everything."

O'Hanley's phone and wallet were both gone.

Situation turns with random act of kindness

She went back inside to call police. The receptionist also gave O'Hanley a brief description of someone she saw walking by.

The teacher then went to the bank to cancel her credit card. That's when the situation hit home and she burst into tears.

"It was just stress, you know," she said. "The stress of having everything stolen."

Then a man who saw her crying came up and offered her $40 in a random act of kindness — and that's when things started looking up.

Tracking the thief

O'Hanley then got the idea to drive around town to see if her car's Bluetooth would somehow connect to her missing phone, if she happened to pass closely enough.

And it didn't take long at all.

tim hortons salmon arm

Tim Hortons in Salmon Arm, B.C. (Photo: Google Street View)

"I pulled into a Tim Hortons parking lot, and 'bing!' there it was," said O'Hanley, who lives in nearby Enderby.

She rushed into the coffee shop and she saw what she'd been looking for: a man matching the receptionist's earlier description was sitting at a corner table.

"I look over, and he's got my stuff all laid out in front of him. My phone, my cards, everything. All in a nice, neat pile.

So, I marched over there and said, 'That's my stuff!'"

"It was just crazy, the craziest experience."

The teacher scolded the thief, demanding that he fix her phone, which had been taken apart.

"I said, 'I don't know how to put that back together. Show me how.' So he showed me how to put everything back."

She said, "People around were looking, but I was zoned in."

One more thing

After ensuring that the man returned everything he took from her car, O'Hanley asked for one more thing.

"I looked at him and I said, 'I'm just gonna give you a hug.'

"I totally wanted him to trust me in that moment. I was happy he didn't take off and happy I got my stuff back. I thought, 'Here he is, he's not fighting me, and whatever his deal is, maybe he needs a hug.'"

With that, the pair left Tim Hortons side by side.

"Before we left, I told him, 'I don't know how I found you.'"

She said they both replied in unison: "God."

"I thought, 'Here he is, he's not fighting me, and whatever his deal is, maybe he needs a hug.'"

The teacher added that the man told her he was sorry.

O'Hanley later called police back, and she's still deciding what to do next. But in the end, she said she's happy to have walked away with her belongings and a good story to tell.

"It was just crazy, the craziest experience," she said. "I told him, 'This is probably the weirdest thing that'll happen to you.'"

(H/T CBC News)

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