Eight months after her wallet was stolen in Northeast Portland, Chris Harrison received a phone call from a stranger saying he had found it.
PORTLAND, Oregon – We report on a lot of thefts in Portland. We often share how victims never see their stolen items again or how community members can’t help them.
This is not one of those stories.
It starts with a photo. Norma Kron Gardner was 15 years old when she smiled at the photo, which was taken nearly 80 years ago. Faded and worn, the painting still means worldly to Norma’s daughter, Chris Harrison.
Harrison, 74, said: ‘I think this picture kept my parents together while he was away.
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Harrison’s father, Benjamin Gardner, carried Norma’s photographs around Europe during World War II. Harrison says that gave him hope.
“When he came back after a year or two, they got married,” she said.
So it makes sense that Harrison has long carried a treasured photograph of her mother in her private purse. Her parents both passed away many years ago.
“I’d love to have it there, because I know she’s there and it’s a nice reminder,” Harrison said.
Last August, Harrison, who lives near Atlanta, Georgia, went to Portland to visit his daughter. She stopped into Trader Joe’s on Halsey Street Northeast. Harrison said someone bumped into her and stole her purse from her handbag.
“I was devastated, I cried,” she said. “We’ll go the next day.”
As first reported by The Oregonian, Harrison filed a police report but thought she would never see her purse or precious photo again. Eight months had passed when she received an unexpected phone call.
“I got a call from this guy, he said, ‘Hey, I got your wallet,’ and I said yes,” Harrison said.
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The man on the other end of the line was Randall Bair, 37 years old.
“It’s okay, I expect that,” Bair said of Harrison’s initial response.
Bair promises that he didn’t steal Harrison’s wallet. Instead, he said he found it planted in a tree in the McDonald’s parking lot on Northeast Cesar Chavez Avenue, just a few blocks from Trader Joe’s.
“I understand how hard it is to lose your wallet, it happened to me,” said Bair.
He said he recognized Harrison’s phone number on the medical card in his wallet and called her.
“I just said, ‘I’ll leave it in the McDonald’s, you can go get it,’” said Bair.
Harrison still didn’t buy it.
“I’m like, ‘I’m sure you did,'” Harrison said. “I was very skeptical.”
Harrison then recalled the report she filed with the Portland Police Department. She said the responder told her she could call him anytime, so she did. Harrison said the employee passed by a McDonald’s and was able to retrieve the wallet.
“The credit card is gone and the money is missing but the photo is still in it!” Harrison said. “I was like, ‘Oh, you’re kidding me!’”
The officer mailed the wallet to Harrison the next day. To thank the officer, Harrison mailed the officer two Trader Joe’s gift cards, but said he had sent them back to her, as he was not authorized to receive them.
As for Bair, Harrison said she’s also sending him a reward and an apology.
Harrison said: “I was embarrassed about the way I spoke to him at first. “You know, in this day and age, it’s hard to trust people.”
“She got it after a while,” he chuckled.
It turned out that somewhere in the purse, perhaps near Norma Kron Gardner’s smile, was a mother’s last lesson.
Harrison said: “Don’t give up on humanity. “Because humans can be kind.”
https://www.king5.com/article/life/wallet-stolen-portland-precious-photo-returned/283-b710304a-cf71-4c24-9409-b469f56f93ae Woman reunited with stolen wallet, precious family photo