Boulder police might have a lead in the case of the missing MontBell bear, thanks to a personal ad purporting to be from two men seeking phone numbers for the young women who "may or may not have" helped them steal the large stuffed critter.
The "missed connections" ad was placed on Craigslist on Tuesday under the heading "may not have helped us steal a bear from mont bell."
The posting features a picture of a man hugging the beloved stuffed bear in front of the outdoor gear store, 1500 Pearl St, as well as details about the suspected theft.
The bear, typically stationed near the front door of the Pearl Street Mall store during business hours to greet shoppers, went missing between 5 and 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to MontBell employees.
Sales associate Grace Vogelsang estimated the stuffed bear was worth about $4,000 and said she hoped whoever made off with it would bring it back because of its significance as a landmark and mascot.
The store's video camera did not capture footage of the bear theft, leaving the trail cold -- until Thursday morning.
Nodin Desaillan, another sales associate at the store, said a man anonymously called the MontBell store at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday to inform employees about the Denver Craigslist ad.
The ad was quickly tracked down and the information passed along to Boulder police, Desaillan said.
"The folks who took the bear had basically asked two young girls to come and distract the employees with questions so the two males could get away with the bear, but they didn't get the girls' phone numbers," Desaillan said. "We provided that information to police."
Desaillan said the Boulder police officer on the case has reached out to Denver police because the ad was on the Denver Craigslist site.
To the suspected thieves' credit, the ad never outright says the bear was stolen, and the original email address for the poster appears to have been removed since it hit the site.
"2 girls from Denver may or may not have helped me and my friend steal a 5' bear from the store Belmont on pearl street in boulder Colorado," the ad reads. "Should have got y'all's number, email me at... This happens on Tuesday, June 19th."
The Craigslist ad was later deleted by the poster.
The bear has yet to be recovered.
Anyone who knows anything more about the bear -- or who might have video of the area during the time in question -- is asked to call the store at 303-449-5331.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.