The recovered Montbell bear is seen hanging out in the Boulder Police Department’s Detective Division following what’s being described as a
The recovered Montbell bear is seen hanging out in the Boulder Police Department's Detective Division following what's being described as a "late-night forest rescue." (Boulder Police Department)

For once, a "missed connections" ad on Craigslist actually worked out.

Sort of.

After going missing for three days, the stuffed bear stolen from the MontBell store on the Pearl Street Mall was recovered safe and sound -- albeit missing its signature fishing vest -- in Roosevelt National Forest on Thursday after some out-of-state visitors took it on a camping trip.

The stuffed bear was stolen from outside the outdoor gear store at 1500 Pearl St. sometime Tuesday evening. Nobody witnessed the abduction and there were no leads in the case until the store was tipped off to a Craigslist ad on Thursday in the "missed connections" section.

The ad was placed on Craigslist on Tuesday under the heading "may not have helped us steal a bear from mont bell," and it featured a picture of a man hugging the bear outside the store.

The ad read, "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. Should have got y'all's number, email me at... This happens on Tuesday, June 19th."

Using the ad, police were able to contact the original poster, who admitted he and his friends stole the bear, according Boulder police. They said they were visiting from out of state and thought it would be "fun" to steal the bear and take it camping in Roosevelt National Forest.

The original bear-nappers then left the stuffed creature with another group of campers, according to police.

Boulder police responded to their campsite and found the bear in a Jeep, being "held against its will," officials noted in a tongue-in-cheek news release about the "late-night forest rescue."

The stuffed bear was undamaged, but was missing its vest.

City officials said the bear spent the night at Boulder's police station, but, unfortunately, "has not shared any information about what happened to him during the incident."

The bear was returned to MontBell on Friday afternoon.

Nodin Desaillan, a sales associate at MontBell, said employees were relieved the bear was found safe.

"We're definitely happy about that," Desaillan said.

He said that since its disappearance, many people have stopped in to ask about the bear and let the store know they were rooting for the bear's safe return.

"There's been a great influx of people dropping by and asking about him and lots of calls of support," Desaillan said.

It will be up to MontBell to decide whether to pursue charges, and Desaillan said that decision will not be made until store managers talk to police.

As for the bear's missing fishing vest? Desaillan said it will offer the store an opportunity to give the bear a new look.

"I think it's time for a wardrobe change," Desaillan said. "He's probably earned it."

By late Friday afternoon, the bear was back at its familiar post outside MontBell, wrapped in a new floral skirt.