By Returning What He Stole in 1999, Thief Revealed Himself

He used his credit card to pay to ship the gold-painted weathervane back
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2024 2:50 PM CST
By Returning What He Stole in 1999, Thief Unmasked Himself
Stock photo of a weather vane.   (Getty Images/GRECLAURENTIU)

A thief returned what he stole more than two decades ago anonymously—but he didn't remain anonymous for long. AFP reports a gold-painted weathervane that sat atop a Catholic cross in southwestern France was taken from its perch in April 1999. Over the years, historian Michel Sabatery wrote about the theft in articles and on social media. In November, he got a package. The cockerel was inside. He told the mayor of Bessan, home to 5,500 people, who in turn brought in a local prosecutor. The investigation revealed the thief covered the shipping cost using his credit card—leading police to him.

Prosecutor Raphael Balland says the man, whom he didn't name, admitted to police what he had done and said he took the weathervane in his 20s while drunk, then concealed it in his basement after feeling too ashamed to return it. He said he recently came upon it and decided it was time to send it back. Sabatery told a French radio broadcaster there was a note inside the package: "After a long journey, I am back on the land where I was born. Dear Bessanais, I missed you. May my song resonate again." The statute of limitations for petty theft in France is six years, so the thief is off the hook for the crime. (More strange stuff stories.)

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