A bicycle stolen from the Ascension Lutheran Church during church services has been recovered.
Pastor Jeff Crim said thanks to the extensive coverage by the media and the actions of local law enforcement agencies, the bicycle was recovered Wednesday afternoon around 1 p.m.
He said following the widespread reports about the theft a person, who will remain anonymous, contacted the church and provided information about the bike’s location at a local pawn shop.
Rev. Crim said, "As Christians we know above all things the joy of being forgiven of our sins, our faults, and our shortcomings when we repent. After discussing the matter with the East Ridge Police Department, the bicycle’s owner voluntarily chose to redeem the bicycle from the pawn shop at his own expense rather than pursue a course of action that would likely result in criminal prosecution of a third party who had voluntarily come forward and did not appear to be the actual thief.
"Based on descriptions provided as the story unfolded, the actual thief appears to have been someone well known to both myself, as pastor of the congregation, and to several members of the congregation. If the statements made and descriptions provided are correct, the bicycle appears to have been stolen by someone we have given financial and food assistance to on several occasions. Like many people seeking help from us, he has not always received exactly what he wanted or in the quantities he desired, but he has always received what we could give. The painful part for me personally is that he knew there was no need to steal from us. Had he asked, he would have received.
"We cannot express enough gratitude to the local media whose coverage led to this recovery. We also would like to thank the East Ridge Police Department and the Chattanooga Police Department who investigated the case. We would also like to thank East Ridge Bicycles, US Money Shop on Brainerd Road, and Household Pawn and Bargains on 23rd Street who all provided information and assistance to us during the past several days.
"As a community gathered around the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we seek a world in which want, need and poverty do not exist. We seek a world in which theft does not happen. The theft on Oct. 7, has reminded us that we are not there yet. However, the outpouring of love and support we received in the last several days lead us to believe we might be closer than we think."