LOS ANGELES — An Anaheim business owner has found the stolen Olympic gold medal belonging to volleyball player Jordyn Poulter, authorities said.
Poulter, the starting setter for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball Team in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, reported the medal stolen from her unlocked rental vehicle parked in her garage on May 25, according to the Anaheim Police Department.
“I just really forgot that it was in my car,” Poulter, 24, said at the time. “As silly as that sounds, it is the reality of the situation.”
On Monday, Maria Carrillo, owner of Carrillo Income Tax on North State College Boulevard, was walking her two dogs outside her office about 11 a.m. and was picking up a McDonald’s bag off the ground when she noticed a discarded plastic trash bag that felt unusually heavy. After looking in the bag, she found and opened a black package and saw a medal inside.
“I thought it was a toy or some kind of imitation — I didn’t think it was going to be a real medal,” she said.
Carrillo called her husband, Noe Hernandez, the owner of Noel Barbershop on the same street, who told her to bring the medal over to him.
“I didn’t believe my wife when she said I found a medal. I thought it was fake and told her to bring it over so we could check it out,” Hernandez said. “I touched it and it was heavy and it said 2020. I said, ‘Oh my God, maybe this is real.’”
Hernandez’s customers at the barber shop found media reports online about the stolen medal. The couple alerted Anaheim police, who arrived to retrieve the medal. Detectives are working to return the medal to Poulter.
A 31-year-old Anaheim man was arrested on suspicion of theft of the medal, but it wasn’t found on him, according to police.
“I was very emotional and surprised because I knew I had in my hand something that took somebody a lot of work to earn,” Carrillo said. “I feel honored to be able to return that to the person who actually put all that work in.”
Carrillo said she is going to be more mindful going forward in keeping an eye out for what’s outside her business, especially because there’s a pawn shop nearby.
She said she saw Poulter on the news thanking her for finding the medal, saying that she hopes to get the chance to meet Carrillo after she returns home from a trip.
“We feel happy to find it and happy to give it back because we know it’s a lot of work for the woman to win it and to make it in the first place,” Hernandez said.