Megan Bratten convinced the thief to return her vehicle.

When we face hard times, we can become desperate and make bad decisions. Sometimes, a person will do something wrong because they’re backed up against a wall, but that doesn’t make them a bad person. When given the opportunity, they may do the right thing.

A single mom proved that point one day when a thief stole her car, and she appealed to his humanity to get it back.

A Horrible Shock

empty parking lot

Megan Bratten was shopping at a department store in Kansas City when she walked out to find her parking spot empty. Her van was gone, and she began to panic. Bratten is a single mother to five kids, and she relied on that van to transport them around. She also used the vehicle to run her business and provide for her family. So losing it was a really big deal.

She was desperate so she did the first thing she could think of: she texted her estranged husband’s cell phone, which was still in the van. At first, she was salty over the discovery and fired off a series of explicit messages, according to KCTV5 (as per Daily Mail). Then she tried appealing to the thief’s humanity.

“Hey, you just stole a single mother of five’s work van,” she texted. “You’re ruining my life here.”

Bratten continued texting the thief for the next three hours, growing more desperate each time. “OMG, car thief people, can you just give me my van back!” she wrote at one point. “It would be epic, the miracle I need right now.”

The Thief Responds

Finally, when she was just about to give up hope, Bratten received a response.

“I do feel bad,” the thief wrote back. “My kids needed a meal on the table so that’s what their dad did [to get] them food. I know it’s wrong, but it’s been so hard since I lost my job.”

The man then gave Bratten detailed instructions on how to retrieve her van. She immediately went to the indicated spot with her mother and her dog to find it. When she got there, she discovered the van was in even better shape than she’d left it: The thief had topped up her transmission fluid after one of her texts explained the car leaked and he didn’t want it anyway.

In the end, Bratten decided not to report the theft and told the news outlet that even if the man was found she wouldn’t press charges.

“I can really relate on the human level of the struggle of feeling desperate and making poor choices,” she explained. “I can understand how people act out of fear, making poor choices. What matters in the end, he really did the right thing.”

The Power of Forgiveness

This story is so incredible because it goes to show you that sometimes, when given a chance, people can surprise you and do the right thing. The thief in this story was desperate and just trying to provide for his family, the same way the victim was. In the end, that relatable thread made the thief realize what he was doing, and he returned the van.

We never know what we’ll do or how much of ourselves we will sacrifice if we’re backed into a corner. Knowing that there’s a way out can make a huge difference in how we work to rectify any wrongdoings we may have committed.

Even more importantly, being able to forgive someone who has wronged us by putting ourselves in their shoes and trying to understand their actions is a powerful thing. That doesn’t mean excusing what they’ve done or becoming friends with them, it simply releases you from the control of that person and allows you to move on with your life.