A thief who swiped Christmas presents off a Columbus man's porch was captured on home surveillance video that went viral online before the Christmas holiday.
But the thief appeared to have had a change of heart, or at least a healthy dose of shaming, because Columbus resident David Whorton says they came back early Christmas morning to return one of the stolen packages.
Whorton told the Ledger-Enquirer he expected the gifts he'd ordered - a musical instrument piece and some cell phone accessories - to arrive on Wednesday. On Thursday, he checked the surveillance video and saw where the packages had been delivered.
"When I saw them I knew they were taken," Whorton said. "I hit fast forward, and about an hour and a half later I saw the white SUV drive into the driveway."
The video shows a woman in a red or purple top, blue pants and boots walk up to his porch and leave with the boxes before getting into the passenger seat of a white SUV. The car immediately pulls out of the driveway.
Whorton called 911 and posted the surveillance video to Facebook. By the evening, it he said it had "gone crazy" online. The original video was shared more than 9,000 times and viewed more than 350,000 times.
People began sending him names and Facebook profiles of people they believed could be the thief. He compiled it all and sent it to the police officer working his case.
"At some point, people started mentioning the girl's name, and Friday afternoon, so maybe 20 hours later, she got linked in the comments," Whorton said. "Sometimes it got out of hand. I'm sure someone was giving her a heads up about what was going on."
After Friday, the online activity leveled off a bit. But the next morning, on Christmas, he looked out his front door and saw something on the sidewalk outside.
Whorton said he was a little taken aback. "I thought, 'Gosh, did she come back in the middle of the night?'"
Indeed she had. Out on the porch was one of the boxes that had been taken - the one with cell phone accessories. Whorton said it was the more expensive of the two.
He checked the surveillance footage again, and sure enough, at about 1:50 a.m., an SUV pulls up and a figure walks up to the porch in a hooded rain jacket. The person drops the package back on the porch and then leaves again in the same manner as before.
Whorton's 13-year-old son told him he'd been woken by the car's headlights but hadn't thought anything of it at the time.
He's glad to have his things back, but said he would have had a perfectly fine Christmas regardless. "This wasn't gonna hinder us. It was just a little bump in the road," he said.
"She didn't use the chimney, so I'm grateful for that."