Bradenton police save missing Olympic gold medal from melting pot

rdymond@bradenton.comSeptember 19, 2013 

MANATEE — The gold medal was set to be melted.

Bradenton Police Department detectives retrieved a stolen 2012 Olympic 24-karat gold medal -- valued at $42,000 -- at 8 p.m. Thursday hours before suspects could melt it down and sell it as a nugget.

“Pawning or fencing the medal would be difficult given the media attention around it,” Lt. John Affolter of the Bradenton Police Department said after the recovery of the medal, which was stolen Sept. 11 from a sprintertraining at IGM Academy. “We were told by two sources that it had already been melted down. The sources were accurate that melting was the intention, but in reality we got there quite possibly just before they melted it.”

The recovery capped a frantic Thursday, which began with the Bradenton police arresting suspect Allen Nichols, 22, and charging him with grand theft of the medal from a truck parked in a gated apartment in the 4600 block of 66th Street West.

But Nichols didn’t have the medal, which was in a case with a purple lanyard.

After interviewing Nichols, detectives began interviewing other people and conducting surveillance. Bradenton police won’t say yet where it was found or who had it, Affolter said.

It is thought that the medal’s owner, sprinter Demetrius Pinder of the Bahamas, will be reunited with his gold medal Friday.

“In my 20 years with the Bradenton Police Department, this is one of the most notable property recoveries we have made,” Affolter said.

Nichols, who is charged with burglary of a vehicle, is being held at the Manatee County jail on $1,500 bond.

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