ATLANTA - An Olympic athlete whose gold medal was stolen in a car break-in Monday night is asking the thief to do the right thing and return the medal.
Joe Jacobi and his family were having dinner at La Fonda on Howell Mill Road.
When he returned to his car, he saw the window had been broken and quickly discovered something close to him had been taken -- the gold medal he won for white water canoe slalom in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
The thief also took Jacobi’s laptop, journal and other possessions. Those were later found in a bag near a dumpster at an apartment complex in downtown Atlanta, but the medal was not with them.
“When I won the medal 24 years ago, I knew it didn't belong in a safety deposit box,” Jacobi said. “It belonged out with me sharing with people. It belongs to people to touch, hold and formulate their own Olympic dream."
Jacobi travels with his Olympic medal and a DVD of the event in which he earned the achievement.
Channel 2 employee Kimberly Richardson was at the scene and spoke to witnesses who said they saw the robbery and took a picture of the car in which the robbers were driving, along with the car's license plate.
Molly Edwards was another smash-and-grab victim at the La Fonda.
She told Richardson that someone stole items from her Jeep that belonged to her friend, Michael Warner.
Jacobi said he was humbled and grateful for the many messages he received from both friends and strangers after they learned the medal was taken.
"To see all the messages that came back out way and to see how many people felt it was very special -- you instantly saw the goodness and kindness of the Olympic spirit that we remember so well,” Jacobi said.
An Olympic gold medal is of course worth much more than its weight in gold, but the amount of gold in the medal is not very much.
Jacobi says whoever took the medal should return it and show their Olympic spirit.
“In the midst of this bad choice, there's an opportunity to make a good one,” Jacobi said. “Someone has this medal they can return not to me but to us.”
Jacobi says whoever took the medal can return it in the mail to Nantahala Outdoor Center where he works.
More information can be found at noc.com.
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