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Thief returns $300 he stole from school in 1996 with note of apology

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  • The man was only 12-years-old at the time of the brazen robbery
  • He has not been publicly identified
  • The $300 came in in the form of 300 $1 bills

By Ryan Gorman

PUBLISHED: 17:39 EST, 24 October 2013 | UPDATED: 17:39 EST, 24 October 2013

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A California man living with the guilt of robbing his school 17 years ago left a confession letter this week to the principal stuffed with hundreds of dollars.

Only 12-years-old at the time of the 1996 theft, the man broke into Grizzly Hill Elementary, a two hour drive west of Lake Tahoe, and stole money being saved for a field trip. He put $300 in with the letter and said to let him know if it wasn’t enough.

Located in rural hill country, things stolen from the school never make it back, principal James Berardi told CBS Sacramento. The letter was left at the school over the weekend, he added.

Secluded: The school's principal says its isolated location makes it easier for robbers to make off with stolen goods

Secluded: The school's principal says its isolated location makes it easier for robbers to make off with stolen goods

‘We’re out in the country, and things disappear out here, because there’s not a lot of people here,’ said Mr Berardi.

‘In 1996 I broke into the school just before the end of the school year,’ the man wrote. ‘I stole some money of a few classrooms (they had been saving it for a ‘end of year trip or party’).’

The guilt-ridden man confessed to taking cash, confiscated items from the principal’s office and breaking hinges on windows to enter the building.

‘I am not exactly sure how much the damage cost to repair or how much money I stole,’ the letter continues. ‘My best guess is about $300’

The included money came in the form of 300 $1 bills, Mr Berardi told the station.

Racked with guilt: The man's letter details the items stolen, includes hundreds of dollars and deeply apologizes for his actions

Racked with guilt: The man's letter details the items stolen, includes hundreds of dollars and deeply apologizes for his actions

‘I’ve enclosed this money in restitution of what I’ve done in an attempt to make this matter right, amends for my wrong,’ said the letter.

The unidentified man then said that if anyone at the school was there in 1996 and feels the included money isn’t enough to let him know.

‘If there is anyone still working at the school who remembers this event and feels $300 does not cover the theft for the damage please contact me,’ he wrote.

The astonished principal doesn’t exactly know what to make of the admission.

‘I hope that it gives him what he wanted, was seeking,’ said Mr Berardi. “I don’t know if that was to lift a burden off himself, or a guilt.’

Amazed: Mr Berardi cannot believe the letter, and the money, were sent to the school

Amazed: Mr Berardi cannot believe the letter, and the money, were sent to the school

The surprising letter is being held up by teachers to students as proof that stealing is wrong.

‘They did something wrong, and it was probably hurting their heart probably so bad and was making them feel so poor about what choices they made and they tried to make it right,’ teacher Willow DeFranco told the station.

Mr Berardi called the man, thanks him for the letter and said no further money will be needed.

The cash will go to the students, the principal assured.

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