A self-employed dad who had hundreds of pounds stolen just two weeks before Christmas has shown what the festive spirit is all about – by publicly forgiving the thief.
Philip McKenna, a gardener and father of twin girls, had more than £500 stolen from his bank account and was left unable to buy the main present he’d been planning for his daughters – an electric piano.
But in an incredible display of empathy, he took to social media to openly forgive whoever stole his hard-won wages.
McKenna wrote: “I’m a gardener from Widnes and understandably my wages go right down this time of year. I’d already bought some of my twins’ Christmas presents. I still had to get their main one, an electric piano, though.”
He said that he’d informed both his bank and PayPal, but neither had yet taken responsibility – potentially leaving him out of pocket for good. He could see what the thief had bought with the money: an expensive Bluetooth speaker.
“I even went on oogle maps and can see your house,” he wrote in the open letter to the thief. “You live four hours away from me. Your house looks a little run down but you have kids’ toys in your front garden.”
And it seemed to be this discovery that sealed the way McKenna, whose story appeared in the Runcorn and Widnes World, wanted to handle the situation.
“That’s probably the one positive thing that I keep thinking about,” he wrote. “Maybe you’re in a worse position than me and became desperate when trying to get presents for your kids. Maybe it really was a case of beg, borrowing and stealing for them.”
He added: “I’m sure we’ll get by. As long as my twins are in good health then I’m sure this will eventually fade in to the background over time. Life goes on and I’ll drown in deeper oceans.
Maybe you’re in a worse position than me and became desperate when trying to get presents for your kids"
“I just hope that when your kids wake up on Christmas morning that they got everything you promised them. If this is the case, then I’m glad that in some way I helped them. I hope they never find out what happened. I hope they still believe in Santa. And you. Merry Christmas.”
How Not To Get Conned At Christmas
Here are five tips from Action Fraud, the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, to help you stay safe this festive season:
:: Think twice before you click
If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. It could be a scam, or you might end up paying over the odds for bad quality. Pause and think before you press ‘checkout’ online.
:: Only use official retailers
If you’re buying tickets for yourself or for someone else, only buy from official sources – and never by direct transfer.
:: Don’t get stranded
Planning a trip? Check flight comparison sites for the best deals and if using a travel agent, always look for an ABTA/ATOL number.
:: Stay secure
Make purchases, when you can, using your home Wi-Fi. Password-protected means you’re more protected, too.
:: Stay away from winter viruses
Keep your internet security and antivirus software up to date – and never open suspicious email attachments.