A lesson in holiday gratitude: Debit card theft turns into story about forgiveness and freedom
December 30, 2016
GYPSUM — In this season of excess, it is easy to forget to be grateful for blessings we take for granted.
Two families in Gypsum learned that lesson anew this Christmas. Their stories started with a dropped debit card and ended with a lesson in grace. Both families had a lot to be thankful for this Christmas.
The story began a couple of weeks ago when Kyle Jordan lost his debit card. When he discovered it was missing, he jumped on his bank's website and found three charges totaling $134 that he didn't make — two fuel purchases and one gift card purchase from a Gypsum business. At that point he told his mom, Janet Jordan, about the problem. That presented the Jordan family's first dilemma.
As Janet noted, because the charges were all from local businesses, there was a reasonable likelihood that someone Kyle knew who was using his card. But even if the thief turned out to be an acquaintance, the Jordan family decided they needed to report the theft. After all, they reasoned, stealing is stealing regardless of who does it.
“My son learned that sometimes good people make really bad decisions. He also learned there are video cameras everywhere and our local law enforcement knows how to use them.”Janet JordanGypsum
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Eagle County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Pedersen arrived at the Jordans' home to compile a theft report. He told the family that because of surveillance cameras at both locations where the stolen card charges were made, he could probably track down the culprit.
He proceeded to do just that, and that's where the story gets interesting.
As a result of his investigation, Pedersen quickly identified the suspect in the case.
"He immediately confessed," said Janet. "It turned out he had no prior record, no history of interactions with law enforcement and expressed deep remorse."
The man told the officer he was having financial difficulties this holiday season and when he found the card, he couldn't resist the temptation to use it to buy gas and a gift card.
"He did the wrong thing. There's no excusing him," Janet said.
But ultimately, the family did decide to forgive him.
When Pedersen presented the information, he asked the Jordans what they wanted to do. Initially Janet was confused by the question. She thought the answer was pre-determined because the man had committed a crime. But through conversation with the deputy, the Jordans learned they could take a different path.
"Deputy Pedersen made it clear he would do whatever we wanted," Janet said.
Through conversation with the family, the deputy explored what that really meant.
'Thank you for my freedom'
When the man was confronted with his wrongdoing, he immediately made financial restitution. With the money side of the issue resolved, what the Jordans really wanted was an apology. Instead of pressing charges, they asked Pedersen if the man could be required to write a letter explaining what he did.
"The deputy was all over that," Janet said.
When the Jordans received the letter, the apology far exceeded their expectations.
In part, the letter reads: "I apologize for what I did and I am very grateful for the opportunity of being free and being with my family this Christmas," wrote the 32-year-old man.
In a postscript he added, "I promise I would never do anything stupid or against the law again."
Janet noted the letter is a great reminder that there are worse things than being short of money at Christmas. Losing your freedom is one of them.
"My son learned that sometimes good people make really bad decisions. He also learned there are video cameras everywhere and our local law enforcement knows how to use them," she said.
As for the culprit, the Jordans are hoping he and his family enjoyed a Merry Christmas.
"He didn't go to the liquor store (when he found and used the debit card). That would have completely changed what I did," Janet said. "I have been praying for this man and his family. I think they should be proud of his letter and should forgive him and support him in staying true to his word."