LORIS, SC (WMBF) - A man got his handgun back Monday after it was stolen out of his car five years ago. Police recovered the gun December 26.
"I gave up of ever getting the gun back, but I said, 'Y'all never gave up,'" said William Staub, who lives in Loris. "You kept the claim and the file open all these years. You never gave up."
In October 2010, Staub was rushing into what was Loris Hospital at the time to check on his daughter when his car door didn't lock properly.
He had to leave his handgun inside of the car because guns aren't allowed in hospitals. He locked it up in the center console, but a thief broke the lock and stole the gun, a GPS and some tools.
Staub filed a report with the Loris Police Department.
"I figured I'd never see the handgun again because the chances of that happening were slim to none," he said.
Five years later, Staub got a voicemail from the Loris Police Department about a claim from 2010.
"I was all excited. I couldn't believe it," he said.
At 11:45 p.m. on December 26, a police officer with the Horry County Police Department smelled marijuana coming from a car while riding on Highway 57 in the Little River area of Horry County, according to the police report.
The police report said the officer saw Timmane Ro Shawn Bellamy, 23, of Little River, turn into a gas station and park in a handicap space without a handicap placard.
Bellamy got out of the car and the officer asked him if he had marijuana in the car, to which he nervously replied yes and said he also had a handgun on top of the console, the report states.
Dispatch told the officer the gun came up clear and there were no outstanding warrants for Bellamy's arrest, so the officer issued Bellamy a ticket for simple possession of marijuana.
However, when Bellamy started pulling out of the parking lot, dispatch told the officer the handgun had actually been stolen from Loris.
The officer caught up to Bellamy, pulled him over and arrested him for unlawful possession of a handgun.
The serial number was used to trace the gun back to Staub. He said he always keeps the serial number written down in a safe place away from his guns, so if it does get stolen, he has the information.
Staub picked up the gun from the Horry County Police Department Monday.
Staub said he thinks guns need to be kept out of the hands of criminals, but not law-abiding gun owners.
"They're criminals because they break the law," he said. "Our police departments are doing everything they can to get the guns away from the bad guys."