Bar owner takes incredible measures to get customer’s stolen ring, then helps the teen who stole it

"Most other people would have just gave the footage to police and he chose to help me. He's made me part of his family."
July 28, 2018 5:21 pm Last Updated: July 28, 2018 5:21 pm

One bar owner’s effort to help out a customer led to an even more amazing act of kindness for the most unexpected person.

Jimmy Gilleece is the owner of Jimmy’s in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Earlier this year, a woman lost something priceless at the bar: a wallet containing her wedding ring.

That’s when Gilleece stepped up to recover it for the patron.

“She was frantic, really upset about it, so it just became my mission,” he told CBS News.

Screenshot via YouTube/CBS Evening News

Gilleece scanned his bar’s security footage, looking for who took the wallet. Eventually, he cracked the case: after seeing a suspicious figure approaching the wallet, he was able to track down the thief and get him to confess about where the ring was.

Unfortunately, he had taken the cash and dumped the wallet into the ocean. But Gilleece was undeterred.

“After I invested all that time, I’m gonna find the ring,” Gilleece said. “So I hired divers to come out the next day.”

Screenshot via YouTube/CBS Evening News

Incredibly, the divers were able to recover the wallet with the ring safely inside. Gilleece returned the items to their owner.

But that’s just the first part of the story. While it’s inspiring that he made the effort to help his customer, the real act of kindness was towards, of all people, the person who took the ring in the first place.

The thief, it turned out, was 17-year-old Rivers Prather, who was estranged from his mother and fending for himself out on the street.

Screenshot via YouTube/CBS Evening News

While Gilleece could’ve reported Prather to the police, he saw something in the teen and realized he did what he did out of desperation instead of criminality.

“He was living in the woods, and this is when it was 30 degrees outside,” Gilleece said. “And he hadn’t eaten in two days. I could tell he wasn’t a criminal.”

So instead of turning him in, the man did something very different: he took him in, giving him a place to stay with his family.

Screenshot via YouTube/CBS Evening News

“I couldn’t have been luckier,” Prather said. “Most other people would have just gave the footage to police and he chose to help me. He’s made me part of his family.”

The teen is earning his keep helping out around the bar, but Prather said he’s more than happy to help the man who gave him a much-needed second chance.

“I’d do anything for him,” he said.

Screenshot via YouTube/CBS Evening News