BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A guilty conscience and news coverage apparently led some thieves to return a cargo trailer and camping gear that was stolen from a Montana Boy Scout troop earlier this month.
Scoutmaster Rick Lindholm said the thieves left a handwritten note on the windshield of a car in the church parking lot from which the trailer and gear were taken around Jan. 12.
The note said they felt guilty and indicated a Billings address in where the trailer could be found and another address where other gear could be found, The Billings Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1En81ET).
Lindholm said police recovered the majority of the missing gear Sunday and Monday, with the exception of some wall tents and heaters.
The troop is happy the thieves had a change of heart, he said.
"I really hope that they use this experience to turn their lives around in a better direction," said Lindholm, scoutmaster of Troop 373, which is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"For our church, we believe a lot in repentance," he said. "If you sin, you should repent. You don't fully complete the process until you turn back from what you've done and never return to it."
While most of the $7,000 in items taken from Troop 373 was recovered, Billings police are still investigating the December theft of $3,200 worth of camping gear from another group of Boy Scouts.
Both groups had raised money to buy the camping gear.
News of the thefts brought an outpouring of support for the troops, including donations to replace the equipment.
Lindholm was unsure if the troop would go on with a fundraiser planned for Wednesday.
Last week, Billings police said they were investigating reports that six trailers with a combined value of $45,300 were reported stolen in December.
Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com