(Chris Russell ~ The Columbus Dispatch, AP)
The Bible, written in German Gothic script and containing the handwritten dates of births, deaths and marriages for seven generations of Tim Shier's family, disappeared in the burglary in Marysville, near Columbus, Ohio, in December 2011.
Thanks to a bit of luck, a sharp-eyed family member, local deputies and Goodwill, which had ended up with the Bible and sold it online, the heirloom is back in Shier's hands.
He called it an answer to his prayers.
"Our family can't put a price on that Bible," Shier said. "History can never be replaced."
The effort began with the arrest of four men in the burglary. A judge offered to give one of the defendants a break if he could find the Bible. The man came up empty, saying he thought it had been dropped in some kind of bin.
A few weeks ago, one of Shier's cousins saw a reference to an old German Bible on the genealogy website ancestry.com. She called Shier, who called the sheriff's office in Union County where he lives.
Sheriff's detectives enlisted the help of Goodwill and tracked it first to Louisiana, then Georgia. But the couple who had bought it wouldn't send it back without recouping the $405 they had paid for it.
The sheriff's office doesn't buy back stolen goods. So the Union County police union stepped up to cover the cost.
"This was no stolen television," said detective Mike Justice, who worked on the case and is president of the Union County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 171. "It's a family heirloom, and we believed it was important to get it back."
Last Saturday night, the treasured book was presented to Shier during the police lodge's annual benefit concert.
Shier's family donated enough money to repay the police union.