Stolen Stein Returned to German Beer Hall After 55 Years by American with a Guilty Conscience
“Hopefully, it arrives in one piece,” the woman wrote in a card addressed to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich.
Whether you believe stealing a beer glass as a souvenir is ethical is a personal decision—and one that might change depending on how lowered your inhibitions are. Regardless, stealing glassware is definitely common. After this past Oktoberfest, the event said they confiscated nearly 100,000 mugs from people trying to swipe them—and that’s just the ones they caught. But for one American woman who got away with thieving a German beer mug, the guilt was too much—so she decided to send it back… 55 years later.
Last month, the iconic German beer hall Hofbrauhaus Munchen posted an image to their Facebook page featuring an HB stone beer stein and a handwritten note. “Big surprise today at Hofbrauhaus: we got a package from the USA,” the post began. “A guest probably took a beer mug 55 years ago and has now sent it back to us. Dear Celeste, thank you very much for your honesty! Of course we will gladly store your jug together with your nice card.”
The card, though nice, also spoke of a troubled conscience. “I took this beer stein from your establishment the summer of 1965 when I was young, reckless, and inconsiderate,” Celeste wrote. “I am sorry I did not get it back to you sooner. Hopefully, it arrives in one piece.”
CNN caught up with the regretful stein thief, Celeste Sweeney—a 73-year-old Maryland resident. (A little math reveals she was a teenager when the incident occurred.) She said she originally took the mug “as a souvenir of our wonderful evening,” but recently she and her husband have been scaling down since their retirement, and she didn’t want to simply get rid of the mug. “I thought, ‘I've got to give that back,’” she told CNN. “I should get this stein back where it belongs.”
For its part, Hofbrauhaus thought one good gesture deserved another, so they reportedly sent Sweeney a brand new stein “she can keep with a clear conscience” and beer tokens if she decides to make a return visit. However, the brewery also offered a warning to other visitors. “Don't get any ideas about taking our beer steins home with you—you won't get a similar parcel in the post!” they were quoted as saying. If you really need a Hofbrauhaus stein, the brand sells plenty online.