COLUMBUS — A week after her home was broken into twice in two days, 93-year-old Margaret Belcher got a sweet surprise.
Belcher has lived in her South Side home since the mid-1940s. Columbus police Officer Josh Good responded to the residence April 11 after Belcher reported that she had been burglarized on both of the previous two days.
The burglar had broken the back door April 9 then came back April 10. Both times, food, medication and alcohol were stolen while Belcher, who is not very mobile, sat feet away, unable to stop the culprit.
When Good discovered that Belcher’s 94th birthday is Friday, the 14-year Police Division veteran decided he wanted to do something for her. With some help from police colleagues and people he knows in the community, Good collected a cake, flowers, other gifts and a gift card to replace some of the food that had been taken from Belcher’s refrigerator.
“They took her food,” he said after the delivery Thursday. “It’s ridiculous to steal food because there’s plenty of places to get food, like soup kitchens and food pantries. But to steal it from a 93-year-old woman is just ridiculous.”
Around 1 p.m. Thursday, Good knocked on Belcher’s door.
“Oh my heavens,” a surprised Belcher said before directing her neighbor Pamela Boyd to put the flowers and the cake on the dining room table and “dress it up.”
For the 25 minutes that Good visited, Belcher smiled ear-to-ear and gleefully examined each gift, noting that a notebook from the city could be used to house “all her secrets” and that the quilt would be perfect to cozy up with on a chilly evening.
Belcher told Good that she would hug and kiss all the members of the Police Division if she could, but she settled on kissing Good on the cheek and giving him a hug after he sang “Happy Birthday” with help from Boyd. That prompted Good to blush and warn Belcher that his wife might be jealous.
Belcher said seeing the time and thought that Good had put into surprising her was a reminder of the good people in the world.
“There are times when there aren’t enough words to say thank you,” Belcher said. “You’re replacing the family I don’t have.”
Belcher jokingly chided Good for not bringing ice cream to accompany the cake, although he did remember candles and matches.
The man who broke into Belcher’s home has not yet been identified, though a surveillance camera set up by her grandson captured a photo of the suspect.
“I’d like to be a foot soldier for you,” Belcher told Good. “Somebody knows him from somewhere.”
Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call detectives at 614-645-2089 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.