Woman forgives car prowler in emotional Facebook message titled, 'What you don't know'

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A woman has written an emotional letter to the person who broke into her husband’s car and stole from him. She wanted the thief to know how that crime affected her family.

“To the person who smashed our car window and stole my husband's backpack,” Jill Lowden’s letter on Facebook begins. “There’s so much you don't know about us, about the backpack, and about the chain of events your crime set in motion.”

Sean Lowden went to the Denny’s in Puyallup on the morning of January 12, to meet some friends from church. He says he left his work laptop in a backpack on the front seat of his car. That backpack was stolen, when someone broke his front window.

“I was terminated because of the laptop being stolen,” he says.

He also lost a piece of medical equipment that helps him cope with multiple sclerosis and his deteriorating vision.

“Losing that was honestly more important than even the laptop to me. And it’s probably not something that whoever stole the backpack can do anything with.”

If that wasn’t enough, Sean and his wife are in the midst of an adoption process. At first, they weren’t sure if losing his job would jeopardize that.

“I was quite scared, angry, confused,” he says.

But even though her family is going through such hardship, Jill didn’t want to dwell on the negative. That’s why she decided to write a letter to the thief.

“You need to know that we're praying for you, not in the cliché way people say. Really, truly I am praying for you.”

She had no idea her words of forgiveness would be shared by hundreds of people on social media. She doubts the person responsible will read the message, but she hopes somehow the feeling gets across.

“We don't need the things back,” she says. “It would be great. It would have been great to not have them stolen in the first place. But I’m so grateful this person wasn't violent, that this person did not attack my husband physically. It makes it easier for me to get to that point of grace quicker.”

Puyallup police told the Lowdens there were a half-dozen car prowls in the area around the Denny’s on January 12. The restaurant does not have security cameras, so right now, there is no description of the suspect.


Here is Jill Lowden's full Facebook post:

"What you don’t know"

To the person who smashed our car window and stole my husband’s backpack, from the Denny’s parking lot in Puyallup, Washington, on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, between 6:30am and 7:00am:

You smashed the front passenger window out of my husband’s black Hyundai, as it was parked right in front of the door to the Denny’s restaurant. I’m assuming you saw the backpack on the front seat and took the risk that something inside of it would be worth your time. And you were right, there was so much in that backpack. In fact, I’m not quite sure if you realize just how much it contained, so I thought I would write you a letter because there is so much you don’t know: about us, about the backpack and about the chain of events that your crime set in motion.

Here is what you don’t know:
-- What you don’t know is that my husband was at that Denny’s to meet with a group of guys from our church, a group of men who meet together to support each other, because life is hard. Because being a provider is hard. Because this world is hard. I don’t know you, but I’m betting you know something about that.
-- What you don’t know is that the laptop, that was in the backpack you stole, belonged to my husband’s employer. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that it has software attached to it, designed to wipe it as soon as a hacker tries to log on to it. I’m sure you know by now that other than the device itself, it's worthless to you. But it wasn’t worthless to us.
-- What you don’t know is that my husband was fired because you stole his laptop.
-- I’m also guessing that you don’t know what that other funny little device was that was in his backpack. The one with the digital screen and the fold out handle. That’s a magnifier and I bet you scored big with that one. That was a piece of equipment that my husband needs to read things. Not because he’s blind, obviously, he isn’t blind, if he’s driving. But because he is going blind, I bet you didn’t know that. And that device was one that the Department of Services for the Blind gave him so that he can train himself, so that if and when he is legally blind, he’ll be able to transition faster, so that he can hope to keep working.
-- I bet you didn’t know that he’s 32-years-old and that he’s losing his vision because he has Multiple Sclerosis and that his vision is just one of many abilities he will lose to this disease. I bet you didn’t know that he has had over 12 sterioid infusions in the last six months, and 14 visits to the emergency room to manage the pain in his eyes from the attacks on his optic nerves. You probably don’t know that he was on short term disability and was counting down the days until he was eligible to apply for long term disability in the hopes that he could ensure financial security for our little family. But his computer getting stolen was all his employer needed to cut ties with him, to let loose of the liability that he was because of his disease.
-- I bet you don’t know how hard this man has fought for his family and he would have NEVER given his employer a reason to fire him. But they got him on a technicality because YOU stole his backpack.
-- I bet you didn’t know that we are in the middle of an adoption. That we are only two months away from adopting a beautiful little girl that we took into our home two years ago. I bet you don’t know how hard we have fought for her, tooth and nail, because she deserves a safe future and family. Do you know how not having employment can impede an adoption? Did you know that stress is the number one cause of exacerbation for people with Multiple Sclerosis?
-- I bet you don’t know how hard I’ve cried this week.
-- I bet you don’t know that I’ve nicknamed you Buddy. I bet you don’t know why.
-- I nicknamed you, Buddy, because what you don’t know is that we are believers. We are people who believe in a God that has a way of sorting these things out. We don’t believe that He did this to us, but we do believe that he can take our circumstances and willing hearts and make beauty from it. I nicknamed you because I needed to call you something. I needed to remember that you are a person, you’re not a phantom or imaginary thing that came and physically broke a window and took a backpack. You are a person. You are a hurting person. Maybe you don’t even know that.

Here’s something else that you don’t know, your crime isn’t forgotten. You are not forgotten. Not because I’m vengeful, or hateful, but because I recognize that something brought you to this point. I recognize, because God has shown me grace, that I need to have grace for you and your situation. I know that you are not evil, that you were not intending to do these horrible things to my family. I know you needed something right then and there, and that the backpack offered you a fix.

So here’s the point to all of this...I want you to know that you stole from the right family. Because now we know you are out there. We know that God let you cross our path. And whether you meant to or not, you got our attention. Buddy, you need to know, that we’re praying for you. Not in the cliché way that so many say it, but really, truly, I am praying for you. And my God must sure love you, because he assigned me to see you, to pray for you, to hope for you. To say to you on behalf of our society and our world, you are better than this. And I’m sorry. Whatever the world did to you, whatever boundaries of yours were crossed, whatever pushed you to the point of hurting others without thought, I'm sorry that we, the world, have let you down. And I am praying for you. I am hoping for you, that reading this letter doesn’t bring shame or guilt, but that it brings awareness. Because what you do has an impact on our world. It had an impact on my world, but I trust that our God will use it for good. I’m not worried about us. We’ll be fine, we’ll pick ourselves back up and let God point us in the direction that He wants us. No one can steal that from us. But you. You, Buddy, are who I am worried about. Because in the next few months, by the power of prayer, you will feel my God working on you. He’s coming for you, he’s pursuing you. He's calling you. And more than anything, I want you to know, it's never too late...no matter the mess, the addiction, the relationships, the history...you are not beyond His reach. And that, my friend, is what you needed know.