Case Study – Theft
In March 2015 the victim, Natasha, who had recently moved to the UK from Poland was moving house. During the process of moving she left her belongings momentarily out on the street and as she did this, the offender, Paul, walked past and stole two of her bags.
When Paul got the items home he found a laptop computer was the only valuable item and he sold this on. He discarded several other items which he thought were worthless. Paul was seen by a neighbour committing the offence. He was arrested a short time later and admitted the offence. He received a community sentence.
At the time this offence was committed Paul was addicted to prescription drugs and also used heroin sporadically. He had over 140 previous convictions and this offence was committed in the midst of a crime spree which lasted several days.
Paul engaged well with his probation officer and a drug rehabilitation requirement. In relation to his offending, he felt particular guilt towards this victim because he had taken her personal possessions and wanted to apologise and try and make amends. Paul was referred to Remedi by his Probation Officer. He said that he was hoping the RJ process would help him “get back like I used to be when I was happy” and for the victim he hoped that the process would the victim “feel better” about what he did.
Natasha was devastated about the offence because she lost several items which were of great sentimental value to her, including rosary beads which were a present from her deceased mother. She said that she did not want to meet the offender but would like to receive a restorative letter from him. In addition, she wanted to ask him what had happened to her property so that she could try and trace it.
Paul was engaged over several months by a Remedi worker in partnership with his Probation Officer. We encouraged him to make every effort to locate the stolen property. Eventually Paul found some rosary beads, jewellery and an MP3 player that belonged to the victim. Paul also wrote the victim a letter in which he explained how and why he had stolen the items. He said that he was in the midst of a drugs binge and went onto say that he had now got his life back on track and was enjoying being drug free.
Natasha accepted the letter and said “It (RJ) is a good idea, I hope it really works for him and makes him better”. The victim was delighted to get some of her property back, in particular she was happy to be reunited with the rosary beads. She asked that we tell Paul that she forgives him for what he did and pass her thanks on to Paul for getting her property back.
Paul said that as a result of writing the letter “I felt more compassion than I have felt for any of my offences”. Despite being a prolific offender, Paul has not re-offended in the year since he first engaged with restorative justice, which is the longest period (aside from time spent in custody) that he has not offended in his adult life.