America is supposed to be the land of the free. However, because of a couple of petty thieves, a statue of three hand-carved bears at Bear & Grill, 2000 Black Rock Turnpike, now sits behind glass, under lock and key, below an American flag in the restaurant's lobby.

The trio previously sat on top of the restaurant's display case. Now the bears sit among hats and shirts with the Bear & Grill logo. But the important thing is they're back home.

"It's wonderful. Justice has been served," said Lucy Olshan, manager of Bear & Grill.

The suspects were identified when regular customers were given surveillance video to review. Though the pair could have been charged with a crime, no charges were filed. The young men were told to return the statue by the second week of September. They did not meet the police-imposed deadline, but did eventually return the bears.

Olshan said she and fellow staffers felt violated by the theft. She noted everyone works hard to make Bear & Grill a nice place and the thieves, based on their actions as recorded on camera, apparently thought swiping the statue would be a good joke.

Olshan said that, in some ways, theft of something more valuable would have been easier to comprehend and accept.

The statue measures approximately 18 inches wide by 8 inches tall. Earlier this year, Bear & Grill owner Pat Santangeli said the statue was given to him by a young child with cerebral palsy.

"It has a lot of sentimental value to me," he said.

The return of the statue also represented a family reunion of sorts, as there are several other bear statues at the restaurant, including life-size statues that greet customers at both entrances.