HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES -- A 12-year-old Southern California girl who was left heartbroken after her stuffed pigeon was stolen in a trip to San Francisco is celebrating a Christmas miracle after the treasured memento was found and returned by police.
Faith was at a restaurant with her mom along 5th and Market streets on the last day of their vacation earlier in December.
Surveillance video from the eatery shows a man with a walker slowly walk toward Faith who is already sitting down. He sits behind her and then swipes her backpack, walking out of the restaurant moments later.
The sobs from Faith were heartbreaking.
The family rescues and fosters pet pigeons at home and Faith had Pidgey Magoo more than half her life.
"He's just so cold-blooded for robbing me, just a kid trying to have fun. I got him when I was six and he's from Santa and I love him so much," the tween told KGO-TV via Zoom.
After their return home, Faith and her mom Jennifer, who asked their last name not be used, went to extreme lengths to try to find Pidgey Magoo.
SFPD officer returns Pidgey Magoo at LAPD's Hollywood station
Jennifer flew back to San Francisco to search for Pidgey. She filed a police report and scoured flea markets and local street vendors for the backpack, even offering a $2,000 reward for Pidgey Magoo's safe return.
After more than a week and no leads in sight, the mother and daughter duo felt like giving up.
"I definitely lost hope, I didn't think we'd see him again," said Faith on Friday afternoon.
That is, until San Francisco police gave Jennifer a call Wednesday night while the family was at a SoCal theme park.
"We didn't want to scream in public, but we were hyperventilating in the best possible way!" she beamed.
SFPD says plainclothes officers identified the man as a person with a criminal history. A search warrant was executed for his residence in the area of Franklin and Golden Gate Avenue.
"We know there are other victims that are related to these thefts the suspect has committed," said SFPD public information officer Robert Rueca.
Turns out, among the items seized was indeed a slightly dirty, but unharmed Pidgey Magoo.
Making this story even more remarkable is how he made it home, just in time for Christmas.
A San Francisco officer who happened to be driving down to Southern California to be with his own family met Faith and Jennifer at the LAPD's Hollywood station to reunite Pidgey with his family.
Faith and her mom say they will continue to foster real pigeons. She says this has been a lesson in situational awareness and determination. She sends this message to all who helped in the search, especially SFPD:
"We probably wouldn't have found Pidgey without them. It's really cool they helped us that much and they're really good at their job."