A Canadian Thief Turned Himself In After The Victim Friended Him On Facebook

    "I couldn't live with what I did and I'll be returning everything."

    A teenage thief in Manitoba apologized and turned himself in to police after the store owner he had robbed added him as a friend on Facebook.

    Stefan Tergesen

    Stefan Tergesen told BuzzFeed Canada he found the thief within a day after enlisting the help of his customers.

    Tergesen owns the H.P. Tergesen & Sons gift shop in Gimli, a tourist town about one hour north of Winnipeg.

    Tergesen headed to the store after friends called him about a broken window. “I came down and found a smashed window in my shoe department," he said.

    Stefan Tergesen

    Inside, a display case full of Nixon watches had been smashed and emptied.

    Tergesen called the police, then checked his surveillance tapes. They showed a teenage boy running in and grabbing the watches, his face clearly visible.

    Tergesen uploaded a brief video of the break-in to the store's Facebook and Instagram accounts, asking his customers for help finding the thief. It didn't take long.

    Stefan Tergesen

    Gimli is a small place, with an off-season population of about 5,000 people, Tergesen said. Tergesen said that within hours, a dozen people had all named the same person as the culprit.

    “I thought I should go look at his Facebook page to see if he’s posted anything that might incriminate him,” Tergesen said. "It dawned on me that if I sent him a friend request, he was going to know for sure that I knew who he was and that he was done for.”

    About 15 minutes after he sent his friend request, the thief accepted. He immediately apologized to the store owner.

    Stefan Tergesen

    The thief was very polite and seemed genuinely sorry for what he'd done. He also said he was "intoxicated" at the time and not thinking clearly.

    Tergesen praised his decision to take responsibility and said they would resolve things through the authorities.

    “The real feel-good thing was the community coming together," Tergesen said.

    Stefan Tergesen

    He said even after repairs and getting the stolen goods back, he won't be able to get back all the time and effort the break-in cost. But it showed him his town had his back.

    "My customers are great and they take ownership of the store," he said. "They felt just as violated as I was when this happened.”

    Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

    Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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