Intense media and social media scrutiny has resulted in the return of the Baby Bear statue, stolen in the early morning hours Monday from its perch in Chemainus’ Secret Garden.
Kathy and Ward Yeager are ecstatic to have the bear back in its rightful place with Mama and Papa Bear at Baby Bears Ice Cream Shoppe.
The bear was found by a trucker off the haul road near the Henry Road roundabout Tuesday morning. A note attached read: “I am so sorry for taking the bear.”
Duncan/North Cowichan RCMP came to the ice cream shoppe to deliver the bear where they met Chris Webb, who does computer work for the Yeagers and was there to see if he could extract more images of the culprit from the surveillance camera at the business.
Webb quickly called the Yeagers with the good news.
“I couldn’t believe it when we got the call this morning,” said Kathy.
“I hoped it would be returned and I’m happy, very happy,” said Ward.
“Our community really pulls together,” added Kathy. “It’s a community artifact.”
Baby Bear had his feet ripped out during the theft from a cemented stand, and was a little worse for wear but will now at least be able to heal and get back to his rightful place.
Kathy was quick to credit the staff at the Chemainus Health Care Centre’s Urgent Care – and, specifically, Dr. Jim Broere and R.N. Gina Boudot – for springing into action.
“Even the doctors helped out to get him repaired,” marvelled Ward. “It’s the first bear Dr. Broere has operated on.”
While the medical staff was working on his feet, “the I.V. was honey,” chuckled Ward.
The theft of the bear drew province-wide attention for the senseless nature of the crime where the suspect could be seen repeatedly kicking at the statue to dislodge it, but also as a symbol of escalating incidents pertaining to property crime in communities.
Ward expressed his gratitude to the news media for the response that undoubtedly had something to do with the bear’s return.
“We had so many thousands of people who’ve responded,” he said.
“The Garden here is a little bit of Chemainus. Everybody likes to come here. Everybody has taken a bit of ownership of this. This is a moment I can say we’ve got a nice ending here, albeit we’ve got a bit of repair to do. He’s part of the family.”
Video surveillance was crucial, too, with clear images of the suspect being released, Ward added.
“This was actually very violent when you take a look at the video. When you steal things, you’re not going to do that anonymity anymore. If I was him, I’d be terribly embarrassed. I think his family should be terribly embarrassed what he did.”
The Yeagers aren’t about to let him off the hook just because the bear’s been returned and hope he’ll still be identified to face charges.
Fairy tales and fables do come true, and the tale of the Three Bears, in Chemainus at least, does have a happy ending.
“In the spring, I think we’ll have a grand opening where Baby Bear will be re-installed,” said Ward.
At the same time, there will be free ice cream for all.