Emma Irvine walked her German shepherd around her Vancouver, British Columbia, neighborhood on Monday as she tried to decompress from recent events.
Three days earlier, a man broke into her pastry shop, Sweet Something, and stole a half-dozen cupcakes. He left behind fragments of shattered glass from the front door.
“This business has been like a labor of love, of blood, sweat and tears,” Irvine told the Washington Post. “Having these things happen to your business, it’s always hard; it’s a piece of you.”
But as Irvine walked her dog, her colleague called. The thief had called the shop and asked to speak with Irvine.
Later that day when she returned the man’s call, Irvine began to feel at ease during the roughly 10-minute conversation. The burglar apologized for what he called a dumb mistake and said he would pay for the cupcakes and the front door’s repairs.
Irvine asked police not to press charges.
“I had a lot of empathy and sympathy for this guy,” Irvine said. “You can tell that he’s a young kid who made a mistake, and we all make mistakes.”
Irvine, 26, chronicled the events in TikToks that have since received more than 2 million views.
On May 26, a man who appeared to be in his 20s showed up at Sweet Something around 3 a.m. and stayed outside for about 30 minutes, according to the Vancouver Police Department. Then, he kicked the front door, shattering the glass and crouched through the hole he created to enter the shop, police said.
Inside, the man sat down for a few minutes, got up to use the bathroom, tried to mop away the broken glass fragments from the door and took selfies on the store’s cellphone, surveillance video showed. After staying for about 30 minutes, the man grabbed six chocolate champagne cupcakes from the fridge – worth about $30 – and departed, police said.
A few hours later, Irvine’s mom walked by the shop and called her daughter with the news. Irvine said her heart dropped.
Before she opened the small business in February 2018, Irvine thought long and hard about what she wanted the shop to look like, down to its pink-and-white wallpaper. The store survived a decline in business – and a previous burglary – during the coronavirus pandemic, Irvine said.
When Irvine arrived at the shop Friday and reviewed the surveillance video from the break-in, she couldn’t help but laugh. She believed the man must have felt some remorse since he tried to clean up the pieces of glass.
“I think he just wanted some delicious cupcakes,” Irvine said.
Still, Irvine had to fix the mess. She reported the crime to police and called her insurance company. She used a large piece of wood to cover the door.
The thief wore orange sunglasses in the three selfies he captured. Trying to joke about the situation, Irvine baked sugar cookies in the shape of orange sunglasses on Saturday. She placed the cookies on top of chocolate champagne cupcakes and marketed them to customers as “Crime of Passion” cupcakes.
On Monday, the thief called to speak with Irvine. He said he would pay for the roughly $850 door repairs and offered to gift Irvine his orange sunglasses. He told her that the cupcakes were delicious.
“It kind of closed the chapter,” Irvine said. “You humanize the person on the other end of it. It’s not very common that somebody calls in and says, ‘I’m sorry I did that.’”
Police said no arrests have been made but they’re still investigating the incident.
The break-in has helped business, Irvine said. While the store typically served its Vancouver community, Irvine said many customers have recently ordered from the United States.
On Wednesday, repair workers fixed the front door, which Irvine hopes concludes the saga. One day, Irvine and the thief hope to meet at the shop to laugh about the incident over cupcakes.
“One decision does not make a person,” Irvine said. “He might have done a wrong thing, but he did everything right after that.”