Eliza Webb, 29, said her car was ransacked last month, but she decided not to call police after she discovered a cellphone in the car that she suspected might belong to a teenager, The Seattle Times reported Tuesday.
Webb said she works with high school students and learned from her husband's experiences that youthful indiscretions can have devastating long-term consequences.
"I think bringing the police and courts into something like this can have long-term, devastating consequences for kids," Webb said. "I wanted to meet him, talk to his parents and see if there might be another way. I felt that if I could get him to own up to what he'd done and understand there were consequences, it could be a much better outcome."
Webb spoke with the 19-year-old owner of the phone and his parents and ended up taking the youth and his accomplice door-to-door around her neighborhood to apologize for ransacking 13 unlocked cars and return stolen items.
"I'm actually kind of glad it happened," the 19-year-old said. "It felt terrible to hear that people are worried and feel like they have to lock the door because of what I did. In a funny way, I feel closer to my neighbors and kind of look forward to seeing them around in different circumstances."