Desperation is a powerful motivator, and it’s hard to imagine a more desperate situation than wanting to save your child’s life — which is exactly what one man said led him to hold up a Bustleton smoke shop this week.

But was the suspect — who, in an odd turn of events, returned the stolen money — telling the truth?

Philadelphia police still aren’t sure.

According to authorities, shortly before 11 a.m. Monday, an armed man in a green raincoat wearing a black-and-white mask on the lower part of his face walked into the 1 Stop Smoke Shop on Verree Road near Red Lion Road.

The 1 Stop Smoke Shop on Verree Road near Red Lion Road, where Monday's robbery occurred.
The 1 Stop Smoke Shop on Verree Road near Red Lion Road, where Monday's robbery occurred.

He approached a sales clerk and threatened to shoot if she did not open the cash register, police said.

When the clerk opened the register, the suspect grabbed the money inside, but then said, “You know what, I’m not gonna do it to you, it’s not gonna help my daughter’s transplant,” and returned the money to the register before running away down Verree, according to police.

Though police did not detail what kind of transplant the man said his daughter needed, CBS3, which first reported the story, said the suspect claimed his daughter needed a kidney transplant.

Speaking to CBS3 under the condition of anonymity, the owner said the robber had stolen more than $100, but then “refused to take it” and put it back, saying it wasn’t enough. The owner of the smoke shop did not immediately return a request for comment.

Even though the money was returned and the suspect left with nothing, police said that if he is identified, he would still be charged with a crime for the attempted armed holdup.

The suspect is described as a heavy-set man around 6 feet tall in his late 20s or early 30s. He also wore a black shirt, pants, and sneakers, and blue latex gloves.