Reporting Juan Fernandez
ARTESIA (CBS) — There’s a thief out there who has a lot of brass.
He, or she, stole two medals (bronze to be exact) from Olympian speed-skater Rusty Smith.
CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Juan Fernandez spoke to a crestfallen Smith Thursday at his mom’s Artesia home. “It’s still hard to believe,” said Smith.
Smith let his mother hold on to the medals while his home is being remodeled. She put them in a fireproof safe, stashed away inside a closet.
Sometime this afternoon, a thief made off with the safe and his Olympic prizes.”It’s pretty disappointing.”
It’s unlikely the thief even knew what he, or she, was carrying off. “How would you even guess there are Olympic medals in there? It’s not like anybody would have known.”
Smith, 33 next month, won his medals in the 500m race in the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City and the 5000m relay at the 2006 games in Turin.
Former Olympic teammate Apolo Ohno offered Smith condolences via the phone. Smith tells Fernandez, “His words were very explicit. He knows how much the medals meant to him, and he feels bad for me to have this loss.”
Smith, who is retired from speed-skating and now working as a commercial real estate agent, hopes for the medals safe return. “The hope is, maybe someday, someone finds them, or tries to sell them. Or someone from the goodness of their heart realizes what they have and just returns them, no questions asked.”
And Smith says the medals aren’t gold but the value to him is priceless. “They have a lot of copper in them. But they have more of a sentimental value than anything else.”
The LA Sheriff’s department is investigating.