ATLANTA – The management at a downtown Atlanta hotel on Friday rewarded a homeless man who turned in a guest's stolen wallet with a weeklong hotel stay and a cash reward.
The hotel guest from France, who was in town for a medical conference, told police she was carrying a lot of things as she walked to her car Nov. 7 when a man pushed her and grabbed her purse, according to a police report. She told police she didn't get a look at the suspect.
Later that day, a man who said he was homeless came to the Omni Hotel and said he was looking in a nearby trash can for food when he found the wallet, which contained credit cards and identification, hotel managing director Scott Stuckey said. The Omni staff returned the wallet to the woman after determining she was a guest.
Stuckey said he saw what had happened in the hotel's security log the next day and began searching for the man using the name he had given to hotel staff, Josh Crabber.
"Your heart bleeds when you hear about something like that, with a person who's going through the garbage looking for food," Stuckey said. "He did the right thing, and now I want to do the right thing for him."
The man, whose name turned out to be Joel Hartman, told CBS Atlanta that he was sitting on a bus and a woman he often sees on that route told him people were looking for him and showed him on her phone the news stories about Stuckey's search. Hartman decided to go to the hotel.
"He was very emotional. He cried and gave Scott a big hug," said the hotel's marketing manager, Elizabeth Ergle. "He was over-the-moon grateful."
The hotel checked Hartman in a room, ordered him a steak dinner from room service and said he could stay a week, through the day after Thanksgiving, Ergle said. They also gave him $500 in cash and plan to buy him some new clothes, she said.
Hartman said he didn't think anything of turning the wallet in, he just thought it was the right thing to do.
"I feel honored that they would even take the time to even think about me like that," he said of the hotel management. "It's pretty cool. That does a bit more for my faith in humanity also."
Stuckey at first had no luck tracking the man down by name. But security footage, broadcast on a local news station Thursday, showed a man with a beard in a long camouflage jacket and dark ball cap. That's when tips started flowing in.
Many people who contacted the hotel said the man often hangs out in downtown Atlanta and that his first name was Kenny, not Josh.
Stuckey and Ergle walked around downtown Atlanta for about two hours Friday morning looking for the man, showing the security camera image to homeless people, police officers and others around the transit hub, two downtown parks and a nearby homeless shelter.