What began as an incident of petty theft ended with two strangers talking over a cup of coffee.
Wednesday afternoon, Tess Aboughoushe was walking back to work in downtown Edmonton when she heard a woman scream that a thief had stolen her wallet.
“Just like in the movies, she screams and I see this man start to run,” Tess recalls. “I didn’t stop to think or anything. I just kind of took off after the guy.”
Tess, a marathon runner, sprinted two blocks in pursuit of the thief before turning a corner and finding him in an alleyway. At that point, her heart was beating fast, not knowing if the man was armed or not.
Fortunately, the man meant no harm. As soon as he realized that Tess had caught up to him, he surrendered the stolen wallet.
“He came out from behind the dumpster and says, in a conciliatory way, ‘Here is the wallet, I can’t do this anymore, I’m sorry, just take it, take it,'” recalls Tess.
The woman whose wallet was stolen eventually caught up to where Tess had found the thief. Tess was able to return the wallet to the woman, no harm done.
But the story doesn’t end there. Tess walked with the man for a few blocks and bought him a coffee at a cafe.
The man explained to Tess that he was visiting Edmonton with some friends from Calgary when they ditched him. He didn’t have any money and had no way of getting back home.
“I’ve never done anything like this before. I just really need the money. I don’t know where to go. I’m lost,” the thief told Tess.
Instead of turning the man into police, Tess gave him directions to a library where he could speak with social workers. She says she has no regrets about putting herself in danger or letting the man go without calling the police.
“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” said Tess. “I wanted to show him some compassion.”