The anonymous thief sent a note and $1,200 in $100 bills to the Barry County Sheriff's Department in Hastings, and they arrived Monday.
The writer admitted breaking into the Middle Mart on M-37 in Thornapple Township, north of Middleville, about 30 years ago. In a letter packed with emotion and spelling errors, the writer asks for "help in locating a man" to whom the writer owes the money.
"Anyways, I did a very bad thing that I am shamed of and have lived with this guilt," the writer said. "I can't begin to say how sorry iam but have lived with this guilt too long," the letter went on to say. "If you do find him, please tell him that I was afoolish stupid man when I did that and iam sorrie."
The letter was unsigned and had no return address.
The $1,200 — while it includes some interest — falls short of making up for the loss in the dollar's purchasing power over the intervening years. The stolen $800 would be worth about $1,800 today, based on changes in the consumer price index.
The former owner of the store, now called Greg's Get-N-Go, confirmed it was broken into in the 1980s. The store was sold in 1988.
Undersheriff Bob Baker said the department isn't interested in reopening the case because of the time that has passed.