Feel Good

Bar Owner Tracks Down Stolen Wallet and Ring, Assists Thief in Need

Most people aren’t willing to go the extra mile to help a stranger. That’s why it was shocking to see Jimmy Gilleece go an extra marathon to help two people: the victim of a crime and the perpetrator.

Gilleece owns a bar aptly named Jimmy’s in Wrightsville, North Carolina. Last month, one of his customers, who he didn’t know previously, reported that her wallet had gone missing, along with her wedding ring that was inside.

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“She was frantic, really upset about it,” Gilleece recalls. “So, it just became my mission (to find it).”

Gilleece spent more than three hours looking through surveillance camera footage. Eventually, he saw a young man snatch the woman’s wallet from a bench just outside the bar.

He recognized the teenager who took the wallet, confronted him, and found out that he threw the wallet in an ocean channel. But that wasn’t enough for Gilleece.

“After I invested all that time, I’m gonna find the ring,” he explains. “So, I hired divers to come out the next day.”

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The divers Gilleece hired managed to find the wallet, which still had the ring inside. After beingable to return the stolen property to its rightful owner, Gilleece turned his attention back to the thief, 17-year old Rivers Prather.

Gilleece found out that Rivers was estranged from his mother and homeless. Stealing the wallet wasn’t a malice act, rather a way to survive.

“I could tell he wasn’t a criminal,” says Gilleece. “He was just somebody who needed a little help.”

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Naturally, Gilleece became that somebody to help Rivers. Gilleece has invited Rivers to stay in his home with his fiancé and their children. Rivers is now working two jobs, and thanks to Gilleece’s generosity and unusual handling of the situation, he has a chance to do something with his life that doesn’t involve being homeless or a criminal.

“Most other people would have just gave the footage to police, and he chose to help me,” says Rivers. “I say thank you to him every day. I’d do anything for him.”