Two porch pirates took back a stolen package after learning that it contained the prized wrestling belts of a 5-year-old autistic boy who is about to have brain surgery.
The thieves handed a four-page note of apology to the owner of the property, Sergio Moriera, after widespread media coverage of the theft from his porch in Pierce County Washington.
They said that they were homeless and struggling with addiction.
Moriera takes regular replica wrestling belts and customizes them, adding metal and even gold-plating, swapping vinyl for leather and plastic for cubic zirconia studs.
He had agreed to work for free on two belts for 5-year-old WWE superfan Timmy Vick Jr. ahead of his upcoming brain surgery. Timmy is non-verbal autistic and is inseparable from his wrestling belt, according to his father.
“Whenever he went to sleep at night he had the belt with him,” Timmy’s father, Timothy Vick Sr. told WHIO. “He takes it everywhere.”
“[Timmy’s] father doesn’t make a lot of money,” Moriera told KIRO7. “I said, ‘Just ship it over and I’ll do everything you want on the belt, and he’ll have the belt of a lifetime.’”
Timmy’s father put the belts in the post to Moriera. But while Moriera was out at work he received a notification from his porch camera service, Ring, showing activity on his porch. Helpless, he watched on his phone a video of two women walk up to the porch and walk off with the package.
Timmy’s father and Moriera managed to get the story covered in the local media, desperately hoping to either trace the thieves or to prompt them to return the belts.
On June 26, after two days of desperately searching for the package thieves, Moriera was sitting on his front porch, taking a break, when he saw a van pull up on the driveway. He recognized the two faces inside the van from the porch video.
“I could tell they were very remorseful,” he said in a YouTube video. “They came up to me and said, ‘We are so sorry that we did this.'”
The two told him that they were homeless and had been sleeping on a friend’s couch. When that friend learned of what they did, they told them to leave and never come back.
“They were sad because they did this to a 5-year-old,” said Moriera. “But I think more than anything they were scared and they knew the law was coming.”
“I told them that I am going to recommend to the police and prosecutors that you don’t press charges, but only if you get help. They said that they would do that.”
Before they left, Moriera gave them a hug.
In an update the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department wrote in a statement: “This morning the two suspects did the right thing and returned the stolen belts to the artist’s residence along with an apology note asking for forgiveness, blaming homelessness and addiction for their poor choice.
“It included these words: ‘We are so sorry for taking your stuff. Never in a million years would I have expected I would have stolen from a sick five year old… I am ashamed of what I did.’
“While we are grateful that the suspects returned Timmy’s belts, we would still like to talk to them,” police said.
A reporter with local news outlet WHI, Gary Horcher wrote on Twitter: “In 25 years of reporting, I don’t recall a response like this. The 2 women who stole boxes containing WWE replica title belts which belonged to a special needs child in DE returned them today, with a 4-page letter asking forgiveness.”
In 25 years of reporting, I don’t recall a response like this. The 2 women who stole boxes containing WWE replica title belts which belonged to a special needs child in DE returned them today, with a 4-page letter asking forgiveness. They saw this story: https://t.co/0Det3IzDjB pic.twitter.com/iWSvr8XBMH
— Gary Horcher (@GaryKIRO7) June 27, 2019
Timmy’s father told WHIO it was an “immense relief” to have the belts back.
“I definitely forgive them for taking the belts,” he told the outlet.
Moriera said that although he had seen the faces of the thieves, they had no license plate on their van, and he had never asked for their names.
At the end of their note, instead of leaving a name, they had signed it, “Two idiots.”