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Phone thief repents after 21 text messages
Mon Jan 22, 2007 2:15 PM ET

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) – A Chinese thief has returned a mobile phone and thousands of yuan he stole from a woman after she sent him 21 touching text messages, Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

Pan Aiying, a teacher in the eastern province of Shandong, had her bag containing her mobile phone, bank cards and 4,900 yuan ($630) snatched by a man riding a motorcycle as she cycled home on Friday, Xinhua said, citing the Qilu Evening News.

Pan first thought of calling the police but she decided to try to persuade the young man to return her bag.

She called her lost phone with her colleague’s cell phone but was disconnected. Then she began sending text messages.

"I’m Pan Aiying, a teacher from Wutou Middle School. You must be going through a difficult time. If so, I will not blame you," wrote Pan in her first text message which did not get a response.

"Keep the 4,900 yuan if you really need it, but please return the other things to me. You are still young. To err is human. Correcting your mistakes is more important than anything," Pan wrote.

She gave up hope of seeing her possessions again after sending 21 text messages without a reply.

But on her way out on Sunday morning, she stumbled over a package that had been left in her courtyard only to discover it was her stolen bag. Nothing had been taken.

"Dear Pan: I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Please forgive me," a letter inside said.

"You are so tolerant even though I stole from you. I’ll correct my ways and be an upright person."

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