Returning Stolen Goods: Supporting Sexual Assault Services, Restoring Faith in Humanity

Huffington Post, get over yourself!

Here is a news report about burglars who stole computers and other valuable items, discovered they were from an organization that works to prevent sexual assault, then returned the stolen items, leaving a what HuffPo calls a “heart-felt” note.

ImageTwo things on the reporting.  First of all, the video reporter dude can’t stop himself from bringing attention to the misspellings, as if only people who know how to spell have a sense of integrity and good-hearted-ness, a moral or spiritual compass (do I smell classism here?).

Not to mention that HuffPo’s own transcription of the note (in case you can’t read the handwriting?) isn’t particularly grammatically on target:

We had no idea what we were takeing [sic]. Here your stuff back. We hope that you guys can continue to make a difference in peoples [sic] live. God bless.

For realz?  [sic] after peoples when what is missing is an apostrophe?  Why not point out the missing ” ‘s” after Here?  Do you know how many peoples forget the plural possessive apostrophe?  Way fewer than those who put in apostrophe to make an item plural when it’s utterly unnecessary.

Someecard by Hadleyan
Someecard by Hadleyan

Secondly, he starts off the report implying that the return was prompted by the fact that the organization was some generic non-profit.  Really?  These people who are risking their liberty are moved to further risk because some organization is a generic non-profit just because it funnels any profit back into the organization or because its funding comes from public or private philanthropic sources?

Ummm, I don’t think so.

The online report quotes one of the police officers and his opinion about why the goods were returned

San Bernardino Police Lt. Paul Williams told NBC. “It appears the guilt of taking the property caused the return of the items.”

Guilt?  Again, really ?!?  I’m speculating here, but I kinda think if these folks (or person) were up for stealing stuff, they were ready to withstand the guilt of having done so in order to benefit from their criminal act.

The article and video ask whether this “restores our faith in humanity.”  (The reporter woman isn’t so sure this does it for her.)  Given the state of the world and my work addressing the impact of vicarious trauma in professional peoples helping other peoples, we all need news that feeds that part of us.  So I’m all for more of it.

But let’s give credit where credit is due.  The more likely truth of it: these robbers were moved by the specific mission of the work, as publicized by local media outlets soon after the heist took place.  Here is their mission statement

Our mission is to provide understanding, and support to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence through immediate crisis intervention, follow-up services, one on one counseling, accompaniment and advocacy services. All services are available to victims, their families, significant others, and friends, at no charge, irrespective of socio-economic status, gender, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.
To provide a safe supportive environment to all survivors seeking individual counseling, advocacy, accompaniment and community resources.

These are the services they provide, all free of charge:

  • 24-Hour Crisis Intervention Hotline

  • Individual and Group Counseling

  • Hospital & Court Advocacy and Accompaniment

  • Community Referrals

  • Community Education & Prevention Programs

  • Community Fairs/Tabling Events

  • Volunteer Training Program

  • Bilingual Services

So here’s to feminist burglars, their sense of priority and integrity, their support for the important work of supporting sexual assault and domestic violence survivors.  Here’s for more moments when our faith in humanity is restored, as well as when we are reminded of a consistent, insistent truth of humanity, that aspect of us that Walt Whitman described so well:


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