Purse-everance: Boise Police return handbag to owner 20 years after it was stolen
Rick Nielsen pried a muddy clutch from the grasp of a Boise canal-bed, traced the bag back to its owner in Colorado and then – after some very hip police work – managed to get her on the phone. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Rick Nielsen pried a muddy clutch from the grasp of a Boise canal-bed, traced the bag back to its owner in Colorado and then – after some very hip police work – managed to get her on the phone.
“It was her favorite purse,” said Nielsen, a community service specialist with Boise Police. “But [she said] it was OK if I just destroyed it.”
Twenty years after burglars stole the bag from her car, Nola DeKeyrel harbored little hope for the purse’s pristine condition.
But the memory of her favorite handbag lingered.
“Yeah,” Nielsen said, “almost immediately when I called her and I told her who I was and who I worked with, she said: Is this about [my] purse?”
“It was my all-time favorite purse,” DeKeyrel said. “I was really bummed when it got stolen.”
So bummed she spent weeks searching for the bag.
“I got on my bike and rode up and down the alleys looking in garbage cans hoping to find it,” DeKeyrel said.
Eventually, DeKeyrel gave up and moved out of state. When a woman reported a purse in a canal this fall, Boise Police sent one of its community-service specialists: Nielsen. As a civilian, he can’t arrest anyone but responds to situations not immediately requiring an officer – situations like thefts, fraud and found-property.
When he saw DeKeyrel’s ID expired 12 years ago and Boise Police’s records department turned up no leads, Rick turned to the social network.
“I never would have found her had it not been for Facebook,” he said.
A call into a Colorado police department yielded DeKeyrel’s number, and - 20 years after its disappearance - DeKeyrel heard word of her purse once more.
“She was blown away,” Nielsen said.
DeKeyrel declined Boise’s offer to mail her the bag, but said she was impressed with Nielsen’s police work and the effort he took to track her down.