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Visually impaired robbery victim speaks out about March 5 crime

The Springfield Police Department replaced Justin Harford's stolen headphones on Saturday, March 19, 2017. Photo courtesy Springfield Police Department

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - What started as a routine day for Justin Harford ended with someone stealing one of his most prized possessions.

Harford has been visually impaired his whole life.

"I was born with congenital glaucoma," Harford said.

He gets around by using the LTD bus from his work in Downtown Eugene to his home in Springfield.

To Harford, an hour long commute between his work and his home is an opportunity for him to put headphones on and listen to audiobooks to pass time.

Harford said it was a very normal Sunday. But what happened next on March 5 was anything but normal.

"I was just walking," Harford said, "and he said, 'You should show me those headphones.'"

Harford said he was approached by Michael Allen Jellison.

Springfield Police said his street name is 'Klepto,' short for kleptomaniac.

"I felt like it would be rude of me to trust him even though I distrust him," Harford said.

Harford said he pulled out his headphones to show Jellison.

"He sort of took a hold of one half of them and I had the other half," Harford said.

Fearing the headphones would break, Harford said he let go and Jellison ran away with them.

The $350 headphones that Harford relies on to listen to his favorite books - gone.

To Harford, it wasn't just about losing his prized possession.

"It's really not about the headphones," Harford said. "It was kind of the loss of the security."

Springfield Police Lt. Scott McKee said surveillance video led to Jellison's arrest.

"We targeted this guy," Mckee said. "We wanted to get his property back and seek justice for this man."

Jellison was charged with theft in the second degree and was taken to jail in Springfield.

But something else was missing.

"The headphones," McKee said, "we don't know what happened to them."

What Springfield Police did next shocked Harford. They gave him new headphones.

The same type of headphones that were taken from him 13 days ago.

"It was amazing," Harford said. "An amazing surprise."




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