Seen here in happier times, Paige Ellis proudly carried the Olympic Torch flanked by her her nanny, Evelyn (since passed) and her mother Lynn. Paige carried the torch in 2010 before donating it to Aldergrove Secondary School when she graduated the following year. (photo Ellis)

Olympic torch in limbo

The people at Copperleaf Technologies were understandably pleased that they managed to find an Olympic torch that had been discarded or hidden in the bushes near the Coal Harbour Seawall, but, as yet, their find has done nothing to help return the torch to Aldergrove Secondary School where it is assumed to have been stolen. some four months ago.

“We contacted the RCMP at the time of the theft and we have reached out to Copperleaf in an effort to have the torch returned to us, but we’ve been asked to provide the serial number for the torch and unfortunately we do not have that number,” said principal, Jeremy Lyndon.

“We never thought to record the serial number, never thinking that someone would actually steal it from our school.”

Corporal Craig van Herk of the RCMP isn’t surprised.

“People just don’t think about that sort of thing,” said van Herk.

“Every DVD player and bicycle out there has a serial number as well, but how many people can honestly say that they have made a note of those numbers?”

The real frustration of the situation, of course, lies in the fact that the Olympic torch is not a common item such as a bike of DVD player.

That fact has raised some questions in Aldergrove as to why it isn’t just a simple matter of returning the torch to its rightful owners.

After all, it’s argued, how many Olympic torches have been stolen or are missing?

“That’s just the thing. We don’t know if there are other torches that have gone missing and until we complete our investigation we won’t be short circuiting the process by simply giving the torch to Aldergrove Secondary School,” said van Herk.

“What if we did that and then found that another torch had been stolen? It was eight years ago, after all. It’s possible that this is a completely different torch.”

Wayne Ellis, whose daughter, Paige, originally carried the torch and then donated it to her school upon graduation, is understanding of the police position, but is frustrated by the process.

“We never thought to take down the serial number. It just seems logical that our torch was stolen and a short time later a torch is found. What are the odds that we have two different torches at play here,” said Ellis.

“What is really frustrating is that someone would steal the torch in the first place. I don’t think that those people thought about the emotional connection that it had when they stole it. It took a lot to for Paige to qualify to carry the torch, after all.”

Ellis explained that Paige had to first apply and then, when she was short listed she had to go through an interview process.

“But when she was chosen it was the thrill of a lifetime and it was something she wanted to remember. It was her graduating year and she was very proud to have been able to give it to her school,” said Ellis.

“That’s something you can never really get back.”

Ellis hopes that the people who are in a position to expedite the return of the torch to where it belongs do everything they can to make that happen as soon as possible.

“We are doing everything we can right now and I know that this isn’t going to fall through the cracks. If this is the Aldergrove torch, it will get back there. People just have to be patient,” said van Herk.

“We are professionals and we are doing this in a professional manner. We can’t just assume that the torch that was found is the same one that went missing in Aldergrove.”

Van Herk added that there is another aspect to the torch saga that people may not recognize.

“This goes beyond just returning the torch to its rightful owners. We also have an investigation on-going, trying to determine who stole it in the first place. We have a crime here…the theft of a valuable object… and we want to be able to bring the criminals to justice.”

School is out for the summer, but principal Lyndon hopes that the matter is resolved by the beginning of the new school year.

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