Top News

Stolen purse turns up after nearly 40 years hiding in Halifax


Liz Campbell’s purse and the items that were inside of it are displayed in a recent photo. Campbell was reunited with her purse on Tuesday after it was stolen 39 years ago. - Liz Campbell
Liz Campbell’s purse and the items that were inside of it are displayed in a recent photo. Campbell was reunited with her purse on Tuesday after it was stolen 39 years ago. - Liz Campbell
HALIFAX, N.S. —

Now, where’d my purse go?

That was a question Liz Campbell got an answer to nearly four decades after her purse was stolen.

The answer? Tucked away in the ceiling tiles in the women’s washroom.

On Dec. 1, 1980, Campbell went to the bank just around the corner from her work, the Catholic Pastoral Centre, on Grafton Street in Halifax. She took out $225 to go Christmas shopping, put her purse in her filing cabinet at work and headed to lunch.

“I remembered I had something to show my coworkers, so I went back to get my purse and it was gone. It was that quick,” Campbell recalled.

Campbell said she filed a report with the police, who searched the general vicinity, but nothing turned up.

“We figured it was long gone,” she said.

But little did Campbell know, her purse wasn’t too far from where it was stolen.

New tech, old purse

On Friday, Brendan Sage, an employee at Smarter Spaces, was 3D-laser scanning above ceiling tiles at their office — the former Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Sage, a newly hired employee, was practising capturing existing mechanical conditions in the washrooms, as it’s the only space in the office with drop ceilings.

“So I scanned the men’s and the women’s washrooms, but when I went over to the women’s and poked my head up in there I noticed there was a purse sitting up there,” Sage said.

Sage took the dust-covered purse down and brought it to show his coworker, Greg Hanlon.

“We saw the purse we figured it’d be a couple of years old, but then we saw the IDs expired in 1980,” Hanlon said.

Hanlon noticed the woman’s driver’s licence showed a Dartmouth address and her age, so he searched for Elizabeth Campbells on Facebook and messaged who he thought it might be.

“I usually never answer messages from people I don’t know, but he explained where he worked and he had found this purse,” Campbell said.

“As soon as he said where he worked, I gave him the number of my old address and he knew right away it was me.”

Campbell met with Hanlon and Sage and was reunited with her old purse on Tuesday.

“It was really a time capsule,” Campbell said of when she opened her purse.

The thief stole Campbell’s money, but left behind her birth certificate, a brush, makeup and her first pair of car keys, among other items.

“There was a full packet of Certs in there and the package still looks brand new,” she said with a laugh. “I offered my daughter one, but after 40 years, she said, ‘I think I’ll pass.’”

Campbell said while it’s easier to think it was someone random off the street, where it was found indicates otherwise.

“I worked on the second floor and it was found on the third, but it’s hard to speculate,” she said.

Campbell said she plans to keep the purse and its contents.

“They’re like little momentos,” she said.

“When you look at the way things were back in the day, all these things don’t exist anymore, so I’ll be hanging onto them for a little while.”

RELATED: 

Recent Stories