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Rusty Smith (far left) celebrates during the Short Track Speed Skating 5000 m Relay at the 2006 Olympic Games. Smith says that medal -- along with another bronze medal -- were stolen from his mother's Artesia home Thursday, July 19.
Two Olympic bronze medals were stolen Thursday from the Artesia home of speed skater Rusty Smith's mother, the athlete told NBC4.
The medals - along with credit cards and passports - were in a safe hidden in a closet and bolted to the floor of the home in the 16700 block of Longworth Avenue in Artesia, Smith said.
Officials believe the incident happened sometime Thursday afternoon when Smith's mother was at work.
Smith, who recently moved to Seal Beach, won a bronze medal in the 500 meter short-track speed skate during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and another bronze in the 5000 meter relay at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
"It took me about a quarter second to realize I just won an Olympic medal," says Smith. "It was an amazing experience, and standing on the podium, can't explain it. It's one of the coolest things you'll ever do."
Smith is disappointed not only for himself, but also for all the young people he inspires.
"I did a lot of public speaking to schools," says Smith. "I go to the school kids, and it was a real impactful thing to be able to have. You pull it out, and drop it on a table. It weighs two pounds. It makes a lot of noise, so they can feel and touch and understand what goals mean when they see things like that."
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation.
"I'd love to be able to get them back, no questions asked, just bring them back," asks Smith. "They're not going to mean anything to you, they mean the world to me. They were a lot of hard work and dedication for so many years."