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Unusual post-Harvey reunion between a man and his stolen BBQ pit

A Port Arthur man has located his barbecue pit that someone stole at the height of Tropical Storm Harvey.

It's been under police custody the past five months. Groves officers have had it since the day it was stolen.

The true owner never thought he'd get it back until he spotted the smoker and its trailer in Beaumont last week.

A man and his barbecue pit is a true bond for many in Southeast Texas. Harold Collins' bond was severed more than five months ago.

"The night before the flood, my pit was stolen from my shop on Gulfway Drive in Port Arthur, Texas, and I was stuck out of town for seven days from the floodwaters," said Collins. "When I came back, I noticed my pit was missing."

Collins builds smokers as a hobby. The 62-year-old from Port Arthur also sells barbecue lunches. The stolen pit was a loss, both personally and professionally.

"I didn't file a report because they had a seven day run, so I put it in the Lord's hands," said Collins.

He believes divine intervention led him to the missing pit and its trailer.

"Last week, I was coming down 69 and there it was-my pit."

His stolen pit at a trailer repair shop on Cardinal Drive in Beaumont. The shop owner told Collins that Grove police had brought it there to get it fixed.

"The guy that was in possession of the pit at that time couldn't convince him that it was his at the point we seized it," said Groves City Marshal Norman Reynolds Jr.

Reynolds says one of his officers stopped the man who had stolen the pit.

"When the officer stopped the individual that was pulling it, he had a lock on the hitch," said Reynolds. "He had it wrapped around his bumper with some chain and that was making it move all over the road. That's what I think drew the attention of the officer."

Reynolds says because no report was filed, his officers were unable to find the owner until Collins and KFDM arrived at the police station Tuesday.

"Mr. Collins, I can understand he thought it was gone and he'd never see it again, so he neglected to do that, but it's a lesson to file those reports with the police department to enable to us to do our jobs," said Reynolds.

Collins finally did turn in a report to Port Arthur Police. Groves and PAPD will now work together on the case.

In the end, he may not get back the trailer, but he should be cooking again on the smoker very soon.

He's waited this long, so Collins is willing to be patient.

"It's in a safe place," said Reynolds.

"That's good. I know it's coming someday," said Collins.

"Well, I wish we had gotten back to you before Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Reynolds. "You probably could have used it."

Adding to the confusion, the owner of the repair shop told KFDM and Collins that the Groves officers had told him the pit had been donated to the police department, but the officers deny they said that.

Groves police tell us the reason Collins might not be able to get the trailer back is that it does not have a serial number. They say that makes it difficult to trace.

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