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RICHMOND HILL, GA (WTOC) -
Heartbreak on Christmas day turns into redemption and joy nearly six years later. It's a rare happy ending with a lesson for all of us.
It was Christmas day in 2007 when someone stole a little girl's new ATV right off a Guyton family's front yard. The family never thought they would see it again. On Wednesday, Christmas was saved by little girl's father.
"People work hard to provide things for their kids and others think its okay to steal it because they are too sorry to work," said Chad Thayer. "Cant get over that somebody took something from my kid."
Thayer's 11-year-old daughter Alexis had her ATV less than 24 hours before a thief took it.
"They had rode some that day and we left it at my mother's house for them to ride some the next day," said Thayer. "Then they got stolen that night, the three of them did."
Thayer filed a police report and was able to recover one of the ATVs, but he lost hope of ever finding the others
"It was hard for us because we had worked so hard to get it for her that year and she was so excited for a kid to lose something like that it was devastating for her," said Thayer.
Then one afternoon nearly six years later, Thayer drove by Low Country Pawn in Richmond Hill and saw it sitting outside.
"The little fog lights I had mounted on it is what gave it away and I knew it was hers," said Thayer.
"I'm glad she got it back," said Bobby Wedincamp, manager of Low Country Pawn. "Wish we wouldn't have lost our money, but it's just the business we are in. But I'm glad to see her smiling."
Wedincamp says he will only get restitution for the loss if the person who stole the ATV is prosecuted, but thankfully there are laws to protect and prevent this from happening.
"We have a bad reputation of everyone thinks if you bring stolen merchandise to a pawn shop that, in most cases with the law, it's not the right place to come," said Wedincamp. "If you want to get caught for stealing something then bring it to a pawn shop, chances are you'll get caught"
While the Grinch remains on the run, Alexis is celebrating Christmas this summer.
"I am happy," she said.
"I knew she would be happy to death," said Thayer. "She was getting her four wheeler back."
Officials say make sure you keep your stuff locked. The best thing you can do is write down all serial numbers and keep photos.
Theft protection tips:
First things first, call the police.
Be sure to file a police report and provide as much detail as possible about your stolen goods, such as: number of stolen items with their descriptions, serial numbers (if applicable), photos, or any information of who may have taken them.
You will probably have to search all the pawn shops in your town and surrounding towns. Searching pawn shops immediately after the theft will boost your chances of finding your stolen goods.