The tale of a stolen letter jacket - Albuquerque Journal

The tale of a stolen letter jacket

Tim Brennan, a senior at Sandia High School, thought his letterman jacket was gone for good after it was stolen out of his Jeep in Northeast Albuquerque. But he got it back through luck, and an observant and persistent city employee. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)
Tim Brennan, a senior at Sandia High School, thought his letterman jacket was gone for good after it was stolen out of his Jeep in Northeast Albuquerque. But he got it back through luck, and an observant and persistent city employee. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Tim Brennan, a 6-foot-5 senior at Sandia High School who plays forward on the varsity basketball team and is a football wide receiver, last saw his letterman jacket on a chilly day in September.

He was getting some pizza at San Mateo and Montgomery with members of the football team before heading down to Milne Stadium to scout their next opponent and he left his jacket in the back seat of his Jeep. He also left the windows cracked because his Jeep reeked due to an unfortunate incident involving a skunk the previous evening in his family’s garage.

Brennan had gotten the jacket in the fall of his freshman year when he made varsity in basketball. Over the years, it has become covered in letters in Matador red and blue: All-District, All-State, All-District Academic, DECA.

He wore the jacket constantly during the school year – because it was warm and because he was proud of it.

“All my accomplishments in high school,” Brennan says.

When the guys got down to Milne and piled out of the Jeep in their jackets, Brennan looked for his and realized that the back window had been forced down and his jacket was gone.

He went back to the pizza place. He drove around the parking lot looking for someone wearing his coat. And he got mad. You can’t just go out and buy another letter jacket and reacquire four years’ worth of honor patches.

Brennan’s proud mother, Laurie Ross-Brennan, was distraught. She put ads in the Journal and on Craigslist: $100 reward, no questions asked. And she began praying daily to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost and stolen articles.

As September turned into October, then November and then the Christmas tree went up, the Brennan family came to the sad understanding that they would never see the jacket again.

Brennan bought a new winter coat and hoped his letterman jacket was at least keeping someone warm.

Anthony Chavez, a city transit enforcement officer who is also a huge basketball fan, saw a man wearing Tim Brennan's letterman jacket, quizzed him about it and got him to hand it over for a happy reunion. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)
Anthony Chavez, a city transit enforcement officer who is also a huge basketball fan, saw a man wearing Tim Brennan’s letterman jacket, quizzed him about it and got him to hand it over for a happy reunion. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

“By Christmas, I figured it was gone,” Ross-Brennan says. “And I gave St. Anthony a rest.”

Several weeks ago, Anthony Chavez, who works in transit enforcement for the city of Albuquerque, was nearing the end of his shift at the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown.

“I saw an individual walk in wearing a Sandia letterman jacket,” Chavez says. “It was really decorated with awards. I’m an avid basketball fan, so I went over to get a closer look.”

The name on the back of the jacket was Brennan. The year was 2014.

“I recognized the name, because I watch a lot of high school basketball,” Chavez says. “I’ve seen Tim Brennan play. He’s a stud.”

The Tim Brennan whom Chavez saw play was about 6-foot-5 and a high school senior. And the guy wearing the jacket? He was about 5-foot-8 and about 30 years old. He had tattoos on his neck. The jacket was hanging off him.

Chavez thought that was strange, but he wondered if Brennan might have given his jacket away to Goodwill or another charity.

But that didn’t make sense. Chavez graduated from Valley High School in 1994. He played basketball. And he had a letter jacket.

“I know exactly where it is. I have it wrapped up,” Chavez says. “That thing still means a lot to me.”

So Chavez engaged the guy.

“Excuse me, sir? Can I ask you where you got that letterman’s jacket?” Chavez asked.

He got the brush-off, so he tried again.

The guy, employing a four-letter word, asked him why he cared whose jacket it was.

To keep him talking, Chavez told a white lie. He said it was his nephew’s jacket and that it had been stolen. At that point, the guy remembered he’d bought it off another guy for 20 bucks.

“I just put two and two together and said, that’s not right,” Chavez said. “I told him we can do this the easy way or the hard way. I said he could hand over the jacket, or we could call the police and let them sort it out.”

Just like that, Chavez had the jacket.

Chavez is friends with Nate Tapia, whose son, Bobby, plays with Brennan. He called Tapia and Tapia called the Matador coaches.

After a basketball practice in late February, Brennan decided to stick around the gym and lift some weights and shoot some more baskets. When he picked up his phone to go home, he had three missed calls – from his coach, his assistant coach and his mom.

“So I figured something big was up,” he says.

Bobby Tapia took the jacket to school the next morning. It was filthy and one of the patches was hanging off, but that was nothing a dry cleaner couldn’t fix.

The Brennans couldn’t believe their luck – that their own St. Anthony had spotted the jacket, known about Tim and stepped in to help.

“We are so thankful for him,” Ross-Brennan says. “What are the odds?”

Chavez says he deals with some tough characters Downtown, so talking a guy out of a stolen letter jacket wasn’t a big deal.

“But,” he says, “it was really rewarding. I felt good for a week.”

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Leslie at 823-3914 or llinthicum@abqjournal.com. Go to abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.

Home » News » Albuquerque News » The tale of a stolen letter jacket


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
BCSO looking for information on homicide at gas station
ABQnews Seeker
Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies are looking ... Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputies are looking for a gray sedan that may have been involved in a homicide at a South Valley gas station ...
2
Police looking for info after shooting on I-40
ABQnews Seeker
  Albuquerque police are asking for ...   Albuquerque police are asking for the public's help after someone was shot in the legs while driving on the interstate two and a ...
3
APD investigating homicide in Nob Hill area
ABQnews Seeker
Police say the person was found ... Police say the person was found outside
4
APD: 2 shot to death in west Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
Officials says victims 'appear to be ... Officials says victims 'appear to be related'
5
Albuquerque local to compete on 'American Ninja Warrior'
ABQnews Seeker
Katie Bone, 16, also has chance ... Katie Bone, 16, also has chance to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes on show
6
Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies to get $5,000 incentive
ABQnews Seeker
New contract also slightly increases pay ... New contract also slightly increases pay for degrees
7
City makes plans for $49.1 million in pandemic relief
ABQnews Seeker
Most will support facilities and services ... Most will support facilities and services for homeless people
8
Man fatally shot days after completing custom bicycle for ...
ABQnews Seeker
Bike was stolen; local shop offers ... Bike was stolen; local shop offers reward for its return
9
Keller: City 'holding the line during difficult times'
ABQnews Seeker
Mayor cites Rail Yards redevelopment, planned ... Mayor cites Rail Yards redevelopment, planned Rail Trail as part of plan to improve Downtown