UPDATE: Stolen one-of-a-kind smoker recovered - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Stolen one-of-a-kind smoker recovered

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- It was a story we first brought you Thursday: A one-of-a-kind smoker stolen from a Chattanooga man has been located and the men who accused of stealing it have been arrested.

Lamar's family contacted Channel 3 Thursday about his hand-built smoker that took more than five years to piece together. Less than 24 hours after we aired our story, 78-year-old Korean War Veteran Lamar Burton has his massive smoker back.

Lamar's son Rick said, "She (my wife) called Channel 3 because you always get things done, we've been faithful watchers of your show. Obviously it worked out, within hours you were there, and within 24 hours we've got it."

As our story was airing on Thursday the suspects were trying to get Les' Pawn Shop on Highway 58 to come check out the stolen goods.

"Heard about it on the news went and looked at it last night and called Crimestopers this morning," said pawn shop owner Les Cantrell.

Cantrell confirmed the freight train smoker's whereabouts and this morning Chattanooga's finest had the suspects in custody at the same location.

But, the smoker was no longer there, the suspects had ditched it down the road. A series of tips led us to an empty parking lot on Melton Drive where the smoker was found.

Chattanooga's most famous grill was headed back to his rightful owner. Ringing the bell he brought back from Korea on the grill Lamar said, "It means a lot to me."

"It broke his heart it wasn't about the money," Rick said. "It was about the time he spent and the things he was able to do for other people with it."

As for the two in custody, James Walker and Joseph Phillip, they'll likely face charges of theft over $10,000. One told an officer he wanted to personally apologize to Lamar.

"You know if the guy is good enough to apologize, let him walk up to me a shake my hand and apologize. I won't hold it against him for life," Lamar said.

This time around Lamar says he'll lock the grill up and install a security camera.

 In the meantime there's only one thing left to do said Lamar. "You wanna go somewhere and cook, take it out and cook. Any time. Let's get everyone involved together we'll go up to the park and we'll take it up there and cook on it."

 -- earlier story --

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Less than a day after Channel 3 told you the story of a stolen one-of-a-kind smoker, the missing "Holy Smoker" grill has been recovered.

The "Choo-Choo Grill" has been a fixture for churches and civic groups and it's considered priceless. Owner Lamar Burton has turned down dozens of offers to buy his one of a kind smoker.

The retired Korean War Navy veteran was putting the finishing touches on it when it disappeared from his Chattanooga home.

"I'll tell you what, this right here has tore me up," he said.

No words and especially no dollar amount can be used to explain how much Lamar Burtons one-of-a-kind smoker meant to him.

"I designed it, I built it, it took pains making it right. I really loved that thing," he explained.

It took Lamar more than five years to hand craft the massive train smoker. It was an ode to his love for trains and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.

The family offered a $500 reward for the recovery of the smoker, and after our story aired on Thursday, several people stepped forward with useful information.


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