MOSES LAKE — When Jayci Madigan, a 12-year-old Moses Lake girl, looked in her purse at Walmart Wednesday night to find her wallet, brimming with babysitting earnings, she couldn’t find it. She had accidentally left in at a self-checkout register, but when she went back to look for it, it was gone.
Jayci’s father Jason wasn’t hopeful when store managers suggested that the Madigan’s file a police report. Maybe the wallet had just been lost, and either way, it only contained $30 — a lot to a young girl that earned it watching after two of her seven siblings, but a drop in the bucket of property crimes that the city’s police deal with daily.
The police were eventually called, however, and Officer Edmund Guerrero arrived on the scene. After reviewing surveillance footage, he delivered the bad news: after Jayci had walked away from the register, a man had pushed his cart up, seen the wallet, looked around, and put it in his bag.
“I wasn’t really mad about it, I was just disappointed that someone would do that,” Jayci said in an interview Saturday.
It seemed like a crummy end to the day.
But Officer Guerrero was just getting started. Guerrero, who was clearly also upset that the young girl’s wallet had been stolen, pulled $20 out of his own pocket, handed it to Jayci and said, “we’re going to do everything we can,” Jayci recalls.
Guerrero wasn’t kidding, either. The very next day, Jayci’s mother, Richelle, got a call from Guerrero, who had found Jayci’s wallet, including all of her babysitting cash.
“He said, ‘I was determined not to let it go, I was like a dog on a bone,’” Richelle said.
Guerrero had reviewed the tapes closely, tracking the man who had taken the wallet through different cameras until he got into his vehicle, and managed to capture the suspect’s license plate number. With that information in hand, Guerrero found where the suspect lived, knocked on his door, and asked for the wallet back.
“The man stated that he had picked it up with the intention of turning it in to store officials, but then forgot on his way out,” Richelle said. “At any rate, I think having an officer standing on his doorstep was enough of an incentive to give it back, whatever his initial intentions were.”
For Jayci’s parents, having Guerrero be an example of the goodness in the community, countering an otherwise bad experience, was the most important gift the officer could give.
“I’m quite pleased, and really impressed, that an officer would take the time to go to the extent that he did to find out all that he could and go so far as to find the wallet,” Jason said. “I think the greatest thing (Jayci) got out of it was that she got to see just what kind of character police officers have, and that they are good people who are here for us.”
Due to some scheduling issues, the Madigan’s haven’t gone to get Jayci’s wallet back yet, but they’re looking forward to thanking Guerrero when they do.
“I just wanna say that he’s a really good police officer, and a lot of people say some really negative things about police officers, but there are some really good people in the world and some of them are police officers,” Jayci said.
Emry Dinman can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.