Dec 16, 2022 - World

Santa thief returns stolen St. Nick in "heartwarming redemption story"

Surveillance photos from the city of Greenville, S.C.

Surveillance photo of the stolen Santa. Photo: Courtesy of the city of Greenville, S.C.

A local TV reporter in South Carolina recently captured a “heartwarming” and redeeming story of a thief returning a Santa display he stole from a restaurant.

The big picture: The story shows that acts of forgiveness and kindness are always right around the corner during the holiday season.

Driving the news: The city of Greenville, South Carolina, shared surveillance video of someone stealing a Santa Claus display from the local Bonjour Crepe restaurant on Dec. 14.

  • The city said the suspect stole Santa overnight and that police were looking for those involved.
  • But it was the Santa thief who returned the Santa display to the restaurant on his own, according to Henry Coburn, a reporter with WSPA-TV in the Carolinas.
  • Coburn declined to comment on this story. The restaurant’s owner, Mayra Gallo, did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Zoom in: Coburn said in a Twitter thread Thursday that he went into the restaurant to interview the owner about the theft. And the thief, who was identified as Melvin, was surprisingly there at the front of the restaurant.

  • So Gallo went up to Melvin, who had flowers for her, and spoke to him, Coburn said.
  • When she came back to Coburn, she said that the thief wanted to apologize on camera.
  • “He is here to apologize, so I told him if he wants me to accept the apology, he has to talk to the camera and come clean," the owner told Coburn.

What he said: The man told Coburn that he had been drunk on the night the Santa was stolen. He saw the display and decided to steal it because it looked cool.

  • The thief said he felt bad for what happened and would do whatever it took to make it right, including "pay for damages, work for free, whatever it took. He wanted to fix this," according to Coburn.
  • “I’m sorry. Really sorry,” the man told him, per WSPA. “I know saying sorry doesn’t do anything, but I promise I’ll do better.”

The other side: Gallo told Coburn she wouldn't press charges.

  • "This is her Christmas gift to Melvin: forgiveness and the ability to rectify his mistakes," Coburn said.

The bottom line: "I got to be in the room for an unexpected, heartwarming redemption story," Coburn tweeted.

  • "May we all have the courage of Melvin to come clean for our mistakes. May we all have the heart of Mayra to forgive others for theirs."
Go deeper