A week that started off terribly for a South Jersey letter carrier ended with an outpouring of generosity from strangers and a local business.
Alex Gihorski was stunned when he returned to his pickup truck in the parking deck on Jan. 9 at Caesars Atlantic City and found it had been burglarized.
It was jarring enough that work clothing, a Yeti bottle, a Christmas card and other items were stolen. But, the avid fisherman was devastated to discover his prized tackle box had also been swiped.
“I was really upset,” said Gihorski, who delivers mail in Brigantine. “There was so much gear in there and it takes so long to get that stuff. Some products were discontinued and some of that stuff has real sentimental value to me.
“I try to think of myself as a really good person,” he said Monday. “I go out of my way to help my friends, help my family. So when all my stuff got stolen, it was like ‘how the hell did this happen to me?’”
The next day Gihorski decided to do something about it. He asked if Scan Atlantic City, a widely followed local Facebook page, would post about the theft. Gihorski also offered a $500 reward for the return of the tackle bag.
But Gihorski did not receive any leads about the whereabouts of his Bass Pro Shops tackle bag after Scan Atlantic City shared his story and he posted about the theft on other pages. He was thankful, however, to get messages from plenty of people offering him money or to supply him with gear.
The most generous offer of assistance, though, came a couple of days later.
Megan Werber, the general manager of Bass Pro Shops in Atlantic City, said she was scrolling Facebook one night and saw the Scan Atlantic City post. After verifying with the page’s administrators that it was legitimate, she was put in contact with Gihorski and invited him to the store.
“I happened to see the post and noticed it was a Bass Pro Shops bag,“ Werber said by phone Monday. “We just decided to see what we could do for him. I know that losing a tackle bag is probably the worst thing that can happen to an angler.”
While Gihorski was grateful to hear from Bass Pro, he wasn’t expecting what was coming his way. “I figured they’d offer me a little bag with some starter stuff, but I was really taken aback when I met with (Megan),” he said.
Gihorski said he was so thankful for the store’s help that he was moved to tears.
“She came out with a huge (tackle) bag, way bigger than what I originally had,” he said. “She gave me a gift card, a hat, a bucket and had a ton of positive stuff to say that was very helpful. I sat down at the fish tank there and had to cry for a little bit — I was so taken aback.”
Gihorski also noted people in a South Jersey bass fishing group on Facebook were very generous, as were followers of bluegrass singer Billy Strings, an avid fisherman.
“It really restores your faith in people, man,” Gihorski said. “So many people reached out to me that don’t know me.”
Gihorski, who will celebrate his 32nd birthday next weekend, expects to put his new gear to good use. He visits a different lake every weekend in the summer with a group of fellow fishermen.
The location of his stolen fishing gear remains a mystery. Atlantic City police said they had nothing to report when asked by NJ Advance Media Monday about the theft.
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Jeff Goldman may be reached at email@example.com.