The Coll Family Restitution Fund

Hello, my name is Christopher. I used to do a lot of bad things. I used to steal from people, live on the streets, and drink way too much. I do not do those things anymore. I have not done those things for over five and a half years. I have been incarcerated for some of the bad things I did. But, “doing time” is not usually enough. Recently, while trying to reinstate my right to vote, I found out that I owe $16,700 to a man, through the courts, for a vehicle I stole from him in 2004. I was so reckless I didn’t even know that I owed this money. Since finding out, I have made small payments (what I could afford) to the courts. They call this “restitution”. The problem is that I owe him so much, and it has been so long, that he only received $20 of this payment a month. Also, the total amount owed has been going up every month, not down, due to interest accruing.

Recently I wrote the man I stole a car from a letter, to make a more formal amends. I was also hoping to discuss an issue I have been having. Because I have owed this money for so long, I now have a “restitution lien” on my name. This is quiet a bummer, and it is meant to be inconvenient. As a result of “cleaning up my act” I have been blessed. I have a great career, I am going to school part time, and I have a beautiful family. I have a wife, a thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, a four-year-old son, and a newborn (one month old) daughter. In trying to trade in our small car for one with a larger back seat (to accommodate our car seats) we discovered this lien on the car. It was a difficult experience, to know that as a result of my addiction and the dumb things I have done, my kids now have to squish in the car. This man, whose car I stole, could make the lien go away if he wanted to. This was something I planned on asking him to do, once the amends was complete. I did not ask him to do this.

I did not ask him to do this because I was blown away to find out what my actions did to him. A few weeks ago, right after bringing my baby daughter home from the hospital, I got a call from the man whose vehicle I stole. I was thrown off, as I didn’t think he was going to call (it had been awhile since I wrote the letter). He started by telling me that my letter had sat on his desk for a long time, and he stared at it- trying to decide if he would call. He went on to tell me how my actions affected him and his wife. After I took his prized possession, his vehicle, he was not compensated by the insurance company. He didn’t receive any money. His wife and him lived in a lot of fear for a long time, as most people whose homes are violated will. He said that his car being stolen was the beginning of a bad string of luck, and he ended up in the hospital, and he is now disabled. He lives on a small fixed income. He called because I sent a larger payment last month, and he surprised to get much more than $20. Also, the anniversary of me violating their space and stealing his car was coming up, and he wanted to find out who I was. The conversation went okay, it was uncomfortable and surprising to see how much I impacted someone I never thought of. I never asked him if he would help get the lien removed because I realized I don’t deserve that. He deserves his money, with interest, as soon as possible. It will take me years to do this. It was suggested to me that I use this forum to ask for help. The holidays are coming, and I am sure that he would love to get a bigger check again this month, and it would help his family. I started on this journey to help myself and my family be more comfortable, but now I would just like to get this guy larger payments, and restore his faith in humanity. I am putting the goal at $16,700 because that is the total owed, but if we even get a couple hundred bucks together for this, I would be so grateful for the help. Sometimes goals look ridiculous, and I am pretty sure this amount of money is ridiculous, but I have to try! Thanks for reading this, have a nice day.

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Christopher Coll 
Phoenix, AZ
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