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Stolen fishing gear returned to Butte priest

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BUTTE, Mont. - A rash of thefts in Butte over the past few months has a rare happy ending.

NBC Montana reported that $4,800 worth of fishing gear was stolen from Father Kirby Longo's SUV Tuesday night. Longo is a priest at St Ann's Catholic Church in Butte.

Someone returned the gear to Longo about 10:15 a.m. Thursday after it was found in a duffel bag in an alleyway.

Not everyone has been so lucky. On Wednesday, officials say eight thefts were reported to the Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff's Office. That list included a stolen cellphone at Narranche Stadium where a soccer player was practicing.

Longo is no stranger to this uptick in thefts. He said his fly rods, waders boots, cameras and other items were stolen from his parked car behind the church late Tuesday night.

Longo is from Billings and just moved to Butte this summer. With the new move, he said leaving his belongings in the open is out of the question.

"I think it's just a good example of a fall in humanity, that we're broken," Longo said. "There was a need of God's grace, so it was a good reminder for me not to be attached to my worldly goods."

Butte-Silver Bow Undersheriff George Skuletich said we are getting into the holiday season, and that is a prime time for thefts.

He also said it runs with the drug trade. If the drug trade is high in Butte, more thefts will occur.

Skuletich warns everyone to take belongings out of your car and bring them inside your home, especially high end items, and lock your vehicles at all times.

Longo tells NBC Montana the Butte community has been generous to him. He said a man from Seattle is sending him a new fly rod, and a Butte resident gave him $150 to use on his next fishing trip. He said now that most of the equipment has been returned, the gifts can stop.

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