‘I never thought I’d see it again’: Hunting rifle stolen from former Craig resident in 1982 reunited 38 years later
Gary Rosine can’t quite remember where he was parked or what vehicle he was driving one night in December 1982, but he certainly remembers the specific hunting rifle stolen from his vehicle 38 year ago.
“It was a Remington 700 .270, and I had just purchased it,” Rosine said from his home in Fairplay. “I still had the box and receipt and everything.”
Fortunately for Rosine, a former Craig resident and Tri-State Generation and Transmissions employee, having that receipt with the serial number on it helped Moffat County Investigator Gary Nichols reunite the rifle with its original owner last week after a tip from leadsonline.com, which located the stolen rifle at a pawn shop in Great Falls, Montana.
Nichols says he received a call from an investigator with the website in July 2019, alerting him to the whereabouts of the rifle. Leads is the largest investigative service based in Dallas and uses technology to help law enforcement track down stolen property and identify suspects.
“Once I received the tip I contacted the pawn shop in Great Falls and asked them if they had this specific rifle with this serial number,” Nichols said. “They said that they had it, so I told them not to get rid of it.”
After some back and forth between the pawn shop and investigators, the shop gave Nichols the name of the man who had pawned the rifle. The pawn shop told Nichols the man had pawned the rifle some 15 times since 2012.
“I was able to contact him and found out that he had received the rifle from a friend’s family after his friend had died in 1998,” Nichols said. “That’s as far back as I could trace the rifle, which is clearly not to 1982.”
After getting some backstory on the rifle from the man who had pawned it, Nichols told him he wouldn’t be getting the rifle back, and then contacted an investigator in Great Falls to help place an administrative hold on the rifle for 30 days.
From there, Great Falls Police Department picked up the gun and shipped it to Nichols, who then reconnected with Rosine.
“I knew Gary from back then. We were acquaintances,” Nichols said. “So it was nice to have a bit of a reunion with him and return the gun to him.”
“I never thought I’d see it again,” Rosine said. “I mean, what are the odds? For it to be out there that long and then to get it back? That’s pretty cool.”
“It’s always great to help the victim out in situations like this and return stolen property to them,” added Nichols, who recently made a trip to Brighton to recover a stolen four-wheeler from Moffat County. “It was especially great since I know Gary personally. I like to help the victim in whatever way we can. Fortunately, it worked out very well in this case.
“It’s certainly the coldest case I’ve worked on.”
After being reunited with his rifle last week, Rosine says he hasn’t had a chance to take the gun out to shoot it, but he plans on it here soon.
“It’s still in good shape,” Rosine said. “It’s definitely still useable. The stock was modified over the years, so I’ll have to replace that, but it still looks much like it did back then.”
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Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume saw it as a win-win situation.