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Stolen records from Saint Barnabas church are found
The stolen records belonging to Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church have been found and returned to the Bainbridge Island church.
Church officials said a thief reached through an office window at the church Sunday, July 29 for an easy snatch-and-grab of a firesafe box.
Members of the church made public pleas for the culprit to return the box — filled with old records that were valuable only because of their historical significance to the church — to no avail.
"I thought they are going to open it up and not find any money in it and get rid of it," said the Rev. Dr. Dennis Tierney.
"I had visions of them passing over the Agate Pass Bridge and pitching them out," he said.
But the box wasn't pitched out over the bridge. Instead, the box was tossed into a field in Poulsbo.
A father and son were clearing brush in an area near Poulsbo and discovered the safe. Police told Tierney that the area has been known as a place where people dump unwanted things.
"They found the box," Tierney said. "It had been pried open, but all the records were inside."
The records are handwritten accounts of marriages, baptisms or other events in the church's history. They are irreplaceable and date back to approximately 1946, when the church was founded.
The father and son notified the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office, who in turn contacted the Bainbridge Island Police Department.
Bainbridge Detective Trevor Ziemba took custody of the safe and put in a few extra hours late Friday to get the proper paperwork done so the box could be returned as soon as possible to Saint Barnabas.
The box was returned to the church within a week of its theft.
Tierney is thankful that his skepticism didn't pan out and the records found their way back home.
"It's one of those moments where you say, 'I'm glad I'm not a betting person, because I would have lost this one,'" Tierney said.
"These things often end with nobody get anything back," he added. "We are grateful we have our documents back."