Tips by residents to an Anne Arundel County charity and police have returned the group's stolen van, which is used to distribute food and donations to thousands of needy Maryland residents.
Thieves broke into the gated parking area behind the Brooklyn Park headquarters of the Lutheran Mission Society earlier this month.
The Lutheran Mission Society has been serving people in need for more than 100 years. Surveillance video of the theft is dark and foggy, so police couldn't get a good look at the driver, WBAL TV reports.
Area residents emailed the organization and contacted police after seeing the van on Monday, Alan Amrhine, a spokesman for the society, told CapitalGazette.com. Police found it in an impound yard off Ritchie Highway.
“It's an answer to our prayers, and we're appreciative of everyone who was concerned, had us in our prayers and were on the look out for the van,” Amrhine said.
The van needs a new ignition switch and has some small dents, but is overall in good condition.
A member of the society found a couple tokens in the back of the van that looked like something that might be used for an arcade game, Amrhine said.
“At first we wondered, 'Why would someone steal this van?'” he said. “But it looks like maybe they used it to transport an arcade game or two.”
Charity officials were concerned after the van's theft that it would cost the mission about $30,000 to buy a new vehicle, taking money away from its core purpose.
"We pick up food. We pick up clothes from people who are just ready to donate to anyone who needs it, and now we can't do that right now, and that really hurt us," the Rev. David Maack, the mission's executive director, said after the theft.
Police said thieves also took a snowblower and tried to force their way into the warehouse where the mission takes in and organizes donations.
The society has been serving people in need since 1905. All of their donated goods come from individuals and churches.
"It's just so disappointing. You try to help people, and then they come and help themselves sometimes like this," Maack said at the time of the theft.
Donations can be made to the society by clicking here.