Life
Bar owner changes homeless teen’s life after catching him stealing
Jimmy had footage of the homeless teen stealing and could have easily called the cops. Yet, he chose a different route.
Caryl Jane Espiritu
05.04.22

Most of us know how to help, but not everyone will do something so far and beyond for a stranger.

Jimmy Gilleece owns a bar in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. He is a person who knew how to lend a hand, but what people around him did not know was that this man was also capable of going the extra mile just to help someone in need.

YouTube- CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube- CBS Evening News

It was a regular day at his bar, which turned out to be a day that would change his life forever. He found out that one of his customers had lost her wallet at the bar, and inside it was a precious thing: the lady’s wedding ring.

Jimmy instantly recognized the woman’s panic. She wanted to get her wedding ring back. And so, the bar owner made sure to provide whatever help he could to find the woman’s ring.

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

YouTube- CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube- CBS Evening News

Jimmy’s mission to find the woman’s wedding ring began.

In order to find out what exactly happened, Jimmy started a thorough scan of the security cameras in his establishment. He watched three hours’ worth of security footage from six cameras, scanning every detail and closely analyzing what happened that led to the loss of the woman’s wallet.

In one of the recorded clips, Jimmy finally saw that the woman lost her wallet on a bench outside the bar, with a suspicious man walking nearby. A few moments later, the man approached the bench and took the woman’s wallet.

YouTube- CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube- CBS Evening News

Searching for the culprit was Jimmy’s next move.

It was not enough for Jimmy to find out what happened to the lost wallet. Now that he had an image of the thief, the bar owner made it his next mission to search for the guy and get the wallet back from him.

Jimmy figured out who the guy was and made him confess what he did to the wallet. The thief admitted that he took the cash and dropped the wallet into an ocean channel.

YouTube- CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube- CBS Evening News

At this point, most people who were trying to help would probably stop and regretfully tell the lady that the wallet couldn’t be found anymore. But Jimmy was not like most people.

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

Unbelievable as it may seem, Jimmy went to greater lengths and hired divers to search the waters thoroughly until they find the lost wallet. He was indeed serious about finding the woman’s wallet and making good on his mission to find the ring.

YouTube- CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube- CBS Evening News

Two divers searched the seabed and eventually found the woman’s wallet.

Inside it was the wedding ring that she badly wanted to recover. The woman thanked Jimmy greatly and he appreciated it. But, the man somehow felt that he still had more to do. And indeed, Jimmy also extended help not only to the woman but also to the thief who took her wallet.

“He was living in the woods, and this is when it was 30 degrees outside, and he hadn’t eaten in two days,” Jimmy told CBS Evening News. “I could tell he wasn’t a criminal. He was just somebody who needed a little help.”

YouTube- CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube- CBS Evening News

The person who took the wallet was 17-year-old Rivers Prather.

The young man was estranged from his mother and was living in the woods. He was desperate to survive as a homeless person when he found the wallet that eventually led him to Jimmy.

“I couldn’t have been luckier,” Rivers 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.”

YouTube- CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube- CBS Evening News

Jimmy helped him in more ways than one.

Rivers also was given the greatest blessing, and that was to be welcomed as a part of Jimmy’s family. The teen moved in with Jimmy, his fiancee, and his kids.

YouTube- CBS Evening News
Source:
YouTube- CBS Evening News

Their encounter has inspired Rivers to do better in life. He was able to get two jobs and has a brighter future waiting for him. Jimmy could have decided to bring the young man to the police that day, but instead, he chose to help him.

So now, Rivers has nothing but gratitude for the kind man.

“I say thank you to him every day,” Rivers said. “I’d do anything for him.”

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By Caryl Jane Espiritu
hi@sbly.com
Caryl Jane Espiritu is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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