North Okanagan woman responds to theft with act of kindness

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Watch Above: For weeks Pauline Vankoll has been dealing with repercussions from the theft of her purse. She explains why she was able to move past her anger and put together a food hamper for those found with her missing property. Megan Turcato reports. – Dec 26, 2016

A north Okanagan woman whose purse was stolen from a local mall not only decided to offer forgiveness, she took it a step further by creating a hamper for those found with some of her missing stuff.

Pauline Vankoll’s Christmas story starts in late November with something not so merry: the loss of her purse. She accidentally left it in the mall food court in Vernon. Vankoll said when she returned for the bag the cleaning crew told her they’d given it to a woman who claimed the bag was hers.

“Not only was I in tears but I was full of rage,” said Vankoll.

“I grew up [in the] Downtown Eastside Vancouver and I lived there most of my life. I know what it is like to have nothing. I know what it is like to survive and what she did is a survive thing.”

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Inside Vankoll’s purse were important items including her wallet, cellphone and keys.

Police used an app to track Vankoll’s missing phone to a Vernon location. The RCMP said they discovered a man and a woman along with Vankoll’s cellphone and another piece of her property.

Police said the man and women were arrested and questioned but no charges were laid.

Vankoll was still missing some key items.

Then in mid-December, police said a stack of Vankoll’s personal cards, including ID, turned up at a citizens patrol office along with a note. The note said, “Return to police. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” It was signed “From Desperate.”

Although Vankoll didn’t know about the note, she found a way to move on from her anger.

“I prayed about it and I asked for guidance,” she said.

“I turned a page and I said, ‘I’m going to give this girl a hamper because revenge isn’t going to do anything.’ Anger is a waste of energy. I decided to follow my heart before the head took over.”

With help from her church, Vankoll put together a hamper for the people, and in particular the woman, found in possession of her missing property.

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“I guess she was in need. I don’t know, I just felt the need to help. It’s Christmas,” explained Vankoll.

Days before Christmas, police were able to drop the hamper off. The RCMP described the recipients as extremely grateful.

Asked whether she’s been able to forgive, Vankoll quipped, “Pretty much. I’d even totally forgive her if I got my car keys back.”

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