THE iPad stolen from a boy with autism at Big W last Friday afternoon was handed in to Bendigo police by a 19-year-old woman yesterday, austism advocate Beck Kelly said.
Police told the mother of Zac, 12, that the woman would most likely receive a caution if charged with the theft.
Big W CCTV footage showed a woman took the iPad while Zac turned his back to help his mother with shopping about 3.30pm on Friday.
Zac uses the iPad as an anxiety calmer and a "security blanket".
Mrs Kelly said she thought the woman must have been spooked by the amount of media the incident had generated.
“Obviously she’s seen all the stories on it and gone into the police station,” she said.
Mrs Kelly said it was disappointing the iPad had been wiped of Zac’s photos and apps.
“Zac was so excited to hear he was getting his iPad back, but his face dropped when he realised it had been cleared of all his photos and memories,” she said.
“The family are very grateful to get it back.”
Mrs Kelly said a caution was not sufficient punishment for what the woman had done.
“People can’t steal things from people and get away with just a stern word,” she said. “I am very grateful for all the police’s hard work, but I think this girl needs to have something against her name as punishment for what she did.”
She said the response from the community had been “overwhelming”.
Several people had offered to donate new iPads, iPhones and hard-drives.
Kim Hardy, of Guildford, heard about the theft and offered to donate his second iPad while on air with 3BO on Monday.
"I felt the same as everyone else when I found out what happened - things are tough in life without these unnecessary burdens," he told the Bendigo Advertiser.
Mrs Kelly said Zac’s mum had been overwhelmed with the support from strangers.
“The extreme kindness from the community has been so touching,” she said. “We want to thank everyone.”