01/29/2014 04:13 EST | Updated 03/31/2014 05:59 EDT

Kijiji ad recovers stolen iPhone with memories of late brother

Joanna Vlamakis of Saint John has recovered the last photos, videos and text messages of her late brother, thanks to a heartfelt appeal on Kijiji about her stolen iPhone.

Vlamakis said her iPhone was stolen from an uptown bar over the weekend.

She was distraught when she realized she had also lost her last mementos of her younger brother, who died four months ago.

"You never think a phone could be that important to you. I mean, you have it every day, you use it every day, but people don't think what is actually on the phone, which is the most important thing," Vlamakis told CBC's Information Morning Saint John on Wednesday.

"All my conversations, all my photos I never put on my computer, my videos — that's what really mattered," she said.

Vlamakis's friend Amber Hachey posted an ad on Kijiji, entitled "More Than Just a Stolen Black iPhone 4S," explaining all that was lost.

"I still like to believe in humanity, that people still have compassion, and that everyone knows the difference between right and wrong. So this is my attempt to reach out to whoever took her phone," the ad said.

"If you contact me there will be no questions asked, no name required, no punishment made — simply an exchange or drop off of the phone."

The ad made its way onto Facebook and within 24 hours, after 29,000 page views, Vlamakis got a call that the phone had been located.

It had been sold in a neighbourhood on the city's east side, said Vlamakis. The new owner was suspicious when she couldn't unlock the device, then she came across the Kijiji ad, she said.

Vlamakis said she's relieved and doesn't plan to pursue the thief.

"The purpose of this wasn't to ruin someone else's life because they stole my phone. They didn't know it meant so much. Thieves take things every day," she said.

"So hopefully, what we hope comes out of it is that you never know what is on someone's personal phone, it's not replaceable. The message is photos, videos are never coming back, and this was one case that there is that chance."

Hachey posted a followup ad, thanking everyone for the outpouring of support, encouragement and sympathy.

"When everyone comes together, amazing things can happen," the ad said.

"It warms my heart to know how much good is out there and how easily it can overcome those few corrupt people."