The burglars targeted the San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services building in San Bernardino, Calif., where Candy Stallings had served as executive director for nearly 27 years.
"We're still in shock," Stallings told Mashable. "I know they committed a crime, but the compassion that they showed is really overwhelming."
The thieves struck late at night on July 31. Stallings said police told her the burglars broke into an outside utility closet, then gained access to the building by crawling above the ceiling panels. Although they clipped wires, hoping to disable the alarm, it must not have worked — the building's security company called Stallings, alerting her to the late-night activity.
By the time she arrived, police were on scene and helicopters were scanning the area, as described in a blog post from the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. The burglars had escaped with the computers and various other items. After she thought her part in the investigation was complete for the night, Stallings returned to her home around 1:30 a.m. She was distraught.
"We don't have a lot of money, we don't have a lot of things to give out," Stallings said, noting that the stolen laptop was the center's only one.
Remorseful Burglars Return Stolen Computers to Sexual Assault Center