A story that began with the potential robbery of two nuns at the Costco in Columbia ended with more than $2,000 being donated to Little Sisters of the Poor on Wednesday.
Mother Superior Joseph Beutler and Sister Bernadette purchased roughly $500 worth of goods at the store for their habits. They were attempting to load the haul into their car at about 5:30 p.m. Monday when a man and his wife offered to help them put away the goods in the rain, Howard County Police said. When the man had emptied a cartload of goods into the nuns' vehicle, they drove back to Baltimore County. When the nuns unloaded their goods later, they realized just one flatbed cart worth of merchandise was present, with the second flatbed having not been loaded
Police said a Costco employee found the cart with all the merchandise still in it and brought it back into the store around 8 p.m. The nuns returned and collected the rest of their goods. Detectives were dispatched to the store and reviewed surveillance footage, but the incident was not captured. The incident occurred under a vestibule, and police said the cart was not wet when it was returned, despite the earlier rain shower. Costco said they did not see anything, but that the cart was found on the other side of the parking lot.
Police were reticent to call the incident a burglary or a potential misunderstanding. Investigators said many customers load their goods in front of the store. The couple who offered to help may have not realized the nuns had two carts worth of materials, simply loading one and thinking their task was complete, leaving the other cart unclaimed. Police said there have been no other reports of theft at that Costco or the surrounding area.
The nuns think the couple may have been meaning to steal their purchases but then had a change of heart and abandoned the cart.
Regardless, the community responded generously. More than $2,000 has been donated to the nuns to support their efforts for those in need this holiday season.
"It was a great Christmas miracle," said Beutler. "This is just another sign of the providence of God to protect us."
Those looking to contribute more can do so through the Little Sisters of the Poor Baltimore website.