A Maryland police officer worked through the night to return a toy stolen from a little girl.
On Sunday, Jason Hendricks posted video evidence showing his daughter’s toy dragon and dinosaur being stolen from their porch the night before.
As outrage built in the comment section, a friend of Hendricks called upon La Plata Police Department Officer Robert Bagley to assist.
"I'm on it," Bagley wrote back.
Hendricks posted his security video with a time and date stamp from that night. Bagley immediately recognized the suspect taking the toys in the footage.
"I recognized the suspect as someone who hangs out in that area a couple streets down from where they live and I had a pretty good idea where she might be located," Bagley said. "I didn't find her, but I was making a U-turn in the cul-de-sac and I saw the little toy sitting there laying up against the curb."
Bagley found the toy about 2 a.m. and decided it was too late to go knock on the Hendricks' door. "I figured I could swing by there in the morning hours after my shift," he said.
The toy dragon had a broken arm, though, and before buying glue to fix it, Bagley stopped at the hospital.
"I usually stop by the hospital when I'm working nights anyway," he said. "I just kind of go walk through the ER, make my presence known, check on people I know and see if they need coffee or anything."
While there, Bagley asked hospital staff to wrap up the dragon's arm and pose for a picture.
"The idea just kind of popped in my head to do this story for the girl. Give her something to look at in the morning and kind of cheer her up a little bit," Bagley said. "I took pictures throughout the night on some routes that I was on and areas I was checking. I never really expected it to get this big."
By Wednesday, Hendricks' original Facebook post, where the story unfolded, received more than 2,600 reactions, about 4,700 shares and more than 200 comments commending Bagley.
Bagley didn't expect such a huge showing of support because community policing is a routine part of his daily patrols.
"I've taken several classes and trainings and have worked on my community policing for several years," he said. "It's definitely something I've noticed helps the community out and creates trust between the city and police."
Given the political climate and the bad press police have received in recent years, Bagley said establishing connections with young people is an important part of what makes the fabric of his community strong.
"We got a job just like their moms and dads do and I think it’s good to establish those relationships young and let kids know we’re out to help them, not cause problems," Bagley said.
La Plata Police are still working to positively identify the person who stole the toys, but there was no word as to whether they will face charges.