Senior loses purse in St. John’s, Halifax store staff pitching together to replace it

Barb Sweet
Published on December 12, 2016

From left to right: Kayla Hoolwerf, Sam McNeil, Diana Steele, Emily White, Kathleen Giroux, Kyla James and myself Lynn Charette-Hardie.

When Jill Janes called the Fossil store in Halifax looking to buy a replacement purse for the one stolen from her mother Saturday in St. John’s, the staff decided to reach into their own pockets out of Christmas kindness

“A little 75-year-old lady had her purse stolen and can’t find it. That sucks,” said assistant manager Kayla Hoolwerf.

“We were really touched by what happened.”

The staff are chipping in their own cash.

It wasn’t something Janes intended when she called the store — she simply wanted to buy a replica of what her disheartened mom had lost.

“That is the real spirit of Christmas,” Janes said.

The purse wasn’t even bought in Halifax — it was purchased in Boston on a trip Janes and her mom, Joan Ralph, took to the eastern seaboard city. On that trip, Ralph got to meet a cousin for the first time, so the purse had special meaning.

Janes had posted the Saturday incident on Facebook with a plea — hoping to recover the purse and a phone or SIM card that contained family photos priceless to Ralph.

After Ralph bought groceries at Dominion on Stavanger Drive Saturday, she decided to go to the washroom before the half hour trip home to Pouch Cove.

Around 3 p.m. she hung her purse and coat on the hook and when she went to put the groceries in the car, realized she didn't have the purse. She went back, but there was no purse in the washroom or in lost and found.

Sometime after Janes arrived at the store, she said the RNC came to take a report and had looked at surveillance tapes to see who used the single washroom after her mother.

Since then credit cards have been cancelled.

Janes said Ralph went back to the washroom three or four minutes after she realized she didn't have the purse.

“She called me very upset and I told her to get security until I could get to Dominion. When I arrived the cleaner had checked all the garbage and nobody turned it in,” Ralph said.

 “Even if somebody dropped off the SIM card. Take the money … They can have the bloody phone,” Ralph said.

They tried calling the Samsung phone but it went to voicemail.

Ralph said the family photos included a visit with her athletic grandson in Ontario this fall in which he picked out sports equipment.

“There are people out there who are bad like that,” Ralph said.

“Everybody knows about it now.”

Janes said she didn't see the security video but was told the next person in the washroom was a woman, who proceeded around the store but was not shown carrying the burgundy purse.

Janes said she may have concealed it and still hopes whoever picked it up will do the right thing.

According to the RNC, missing purses and wallets turned into police are very often reunited with their owners.

For instance, it's a common occurrence downtown for people to leave items behind.

As for  when the incident becomes a crime, it's not cut and dried. A person who finds something may not take the quickest route to return it. And if they willfully keep it, there's intent but it can be tangly to sort that out.

Meantime she said Fossil has picked up some loyal customers.

“We just wanted to help her out,” said Hoolwerf, one of the 26 employees at the Halifax Shopping Centre store.

Twitter: @bsweettweets