The wooden bear that went missing was carved by chainsaw and painted by a friend of the couple's, Chuck "The Woodchuck" Jennett, who lived in upstate New York. The sculptures are valued at $600 each but they usually sell them at a discount price of $450. This was the first time though, that anyone had stolen one of the bears that also serve as decorations in front of the store.
Police recently released the footage from the surveillance cameras in an effort to find the thief. The videos show a man who entered the store shortly before 10 pm and purchase a pack of cigarettes. He then walked out of the store and picked up the bear and put it into his white Jeep Cherokee and drove off.
"You see the whole car sink down from the weight," stated Detective George Taylor.
Police said that the whole episode took about 15 seconds and although it is clear they were looking for a white male in his 20's to early 30's, with a muscular build and bald head, they didn't have a clear shot of the vehicle license plate. They released the film footage and it was shown on the evening news, Monday August 27.
Someone called the gas station at 11:45 pm that same evening to say that there was an envelope sitting on the bench outside. The caller said that it was "for the bear" and hung up. Sure enough, there was an envelope outside containing $450 but Helene said that she hadn't seen the video and couldn't say if the man who left the envelope was the same one who had taken the bear.
She stated that they are happy that the bear has been paid for and they are not going to press charges if the thief is found. Helene added that she was sure that stolen candy gets out the door and they don't notice.
This just may have been a case of mistaken give-aways. The man may have thought that it was one of those "special" promotions they have from the cigarette companies. It may also be that the bear was looking to hitch a ride to a location with fewer bears in it. I think though, when you possibly see your own car on the nightly news in regards to a stolen bear that is now gracing your backporch, he knew it wasn't a "freebie" that he had grabbed.
It is nice that the bear was paid for but he had the guts to steal it but barely the guts to pay for his mistake.