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Shoplifter sends payment for sweater swiped 37 years ago

Nearly four decades ago, someone walked out of the Straus Clothing store in Grand Forks with a sweater they didn't pay for.

It's unlikely the store even knew about it.

Or, if it did, the theft was shrugged off and forgotten. Cost of doing business.

But for someone, somewhere, the debt stayed on the books.

Until Tuesday.

That's when one of Straus Clothing's two Fargo stores - the Grand Forks store closed years ago - finally received payment for the ill-gotten garment.

Five $20 bills came in an envelope, along with a letter that read:

"Thirty-seven years ago I took a sweater from the Grand Forks store. Sorry."

The letter wowed the folks at Straus Clothing, according to Rick Stern, whose family owns the business.

"To have it (the theft) weigh on them and then to have them make good on it. It's very heart-warming," said Stern, who added that receiving payment for a piece of pilfering rarely happens.

"It's a big deal," he said of the letter and the penance it represents.

"You never like to think you lose that much stuff to shoplifters, but we all know it happens," he said.