In November 2017 Shawn Kojima, from Riverton, Utah, was gearing up for the festive period to come; and like many people, he chose to buy some of his Christmas gifts online. However, one particular home delivery only made it as far as Kojima’s doorstep – before it was stolen by an opportunist thief.
It was lucky for Kojima, then, that he realized there was a way to identify the culprit; and after that discovery, the father of two was advised to take matters into his own hands. It’s perhaps fair to say, though, that he never anticipated what would eventually happen.
The parcel that had been brazenly taken from Kojima’s porch contained presents for his two young daughters and former mother-in-law. The Utah man had likely tried to save precious time by using the internet to purchase those gifts; after doing so, however, he fell victim to one of the potential pitfalls of online shopping.
At first, though, Kojima probably didn’t realize that anything was up with his delivery; he received a message telling him that his presents had made it safely to his home, after all. But upon further investigation, the expected package wasn’t where it should have been. So, he watched the film from his security cameras for any clues as to its location. And what he ended up seeing may very well have dismayed him.
The footage from one of Kojima’s cameras shows a man wearing a white shirt and a backwards baseball cap. He is captured walking up to the door, ringing the bell and folding his arms to wait. Then, the man seems to spot something on the floor: a brown box that, according to Kojima himself, contained his gifts.
The stranger continues to look down at the floor for a couple of seconds, perhaps working out his next move. He can then be seen looking upwards as if to check whether there are indeed any cameras watching his movements. Little did he know, however, that there was one recording behind him – next to the doorbell.
After viewing the video, Kojima then turned to the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake for help. However, an officer from the department redirected him to social media, ostensibly to enable as many people as possible to see the thief. So, Kojima followed this advice, uploading a series of screencaps showing the man responsible to his Instagram page. These images were also posted to Facebook.
Initially, Kojima assumed that the posts wouldn’t have that great a reach. Speaking to website Babble, he even admitted, “I was honestly thinking that [only] a few of my friends would repost the pics I posted on social media.” But as it happened, he continued, they “caught on like wildfire.”
Indeed, on Facebook the snaps of the man in the white shirt and cap were shared 440 times. One commenter even came up with a rather creative suggestion to prank any future thieves, writing, “I want to sell exploding poop packages just to leave on your doorstep. When opened, they fill the room with poop, pepper spray and green dye.”
Meanwhile, other Facebook users speculated that the man concerned had problems with drug addiction or had done a stint behind bars. Yet more people commented on the photos with specific information about an individual they assumed to be the robber. The huge number of shares and messages weren’t the most surprising part of this whole tale, though.
That came two days on from the original incident when a package arrived at Kojima’s door; it was the very same box that had been stolen. And that wasn’t all. A bonus gift of a little soft toy, along with a handwritten note, was given to the dad, too.
The letter was written in red ink and spoke of the thief’s regret. In it, the culprit claimed that he had only approached the house in the first place in order “to ask if [Kojima’s] vinyl fence was for sale.” He also referred to his impulse to take the package as a “scumbag move” and vowed that “it will never happen again.”
The writer then ended his message on a contrite note, saying, “Once again I am truly sorry for my inconvenience and selfish ways. If you ever need anything, I will be at your service.” It seemed that despite his original callous behavior, the thief was at least attempting to make amends for his actions.
And one member of Kojima’s household was particularly happy that the robber had seen the error of his ways. As the dad told Babble, his four-year-old daughter Cici “just kept cheering that ‘we won.’” He added, “[She] wanted me to hang the letter on my fridge where I hang her and her sister’s art.”
Kojima himself, meanwhile, hopes that the thief has learned his lesson. And while the Utah native conceded that he “[didn’t] know [the man’s] story or his situation” well enough to properly judge him, he nevertheless holds strong to his belief that “you should never steal from someone else” regardless of your circumstances.
That’s a credo that the police hold by, too, so it’s perhaps no surprise that local law enforcement decided to track down the individual concerned and apprehend him. Kojima would reveal that news on Facebook, and he was to return to the social media site five days after his original post to comment further on his experience.
In particular, Kojima marveled at the fact that the story had “gone viral” and that “the video [has] been on news stations across the U.S.” And the comments and reactions to that post came not only from people in other parts of the U.S. but also from those located as far away as Germany, India and Scotland – showing just how much the dad of two’s tale had resonated far and wide.
It’s unknown, though, exactly why the thief chose to give the presents back. Perhaps it was simply out of remorse. Or maybe he felt as if he’d been backed into a corner after Kojima’s social media posts had identified him. And as for the gift of the toy? Well, Kojima suspected that the individual responsible may have peeked inside the package. That way, he would have seen that items for children were contained within.
Hopefully, in any case, the man has set a precedent for anyone else thinking of a copycat crime – and inspired them to think twice before committing such an offence. And according to Unified Police Department detective Ken Hansen, the very least that thieves can do to try to make up for their mistakes is follow the letter writer’s lead and apologize.
Hansen told Salt Lake City station KSL that such unscrupulous individuals should also give back any packages they have previously pilfered. Fingers crossed, then, that many other people go on to experience happy endings just like Kojima did.