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Duane "Shorty" Davis and his grill at the Corinthian Restaurant and Lounge on Saturday. The grill had been stolen but Davis found it.
Duane "Shorty" Davis and his grill at the Corinthian Restaurant and Lounge on Saturday. The grill had been stolen but Davis found it. (Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)

Crediting help from the community, longtime Baltimore activist and barbecue cook Duane "Shorty" Davis recovered his grill late Friday night, a few days after discovering it had been stolen from the site of a charity event.

Davis provided an account in an interview and posted a Facebook video online outlining how he eventually tracked down the missing $5,000 combination grill and smoker. It began with a phone call around 9:30 p.m. Friday with a tip about the missing item's location.

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Davis had been working to get word out about the theft on social media all week, and someone who had seen the grill in his neighborhood called a friend of Davis', who passed the word along. Davis hopped in his truck and set out to confront the thief in East Baltimore.

"We used social media to do the police's job," Davis said.

When he got there, Davis said, the grill was still hooked up to a truck that matched the one witnesses described being used in the theft. The tipster pointed out the house where the thief lived, and Davis knocked on the door.

Davis said the man who had taken the grill offered him a deal: Buy it back for $300. Davis made a counteroffer: Give it back, or I'll have you sent to jail.

"He was acting like he hadn't done anything wrong," Davis said.

A live video posted to Facebook — a medium Davis is known for in Baltimore — shortly before 11 p.m. Friday picked up what happened next. It showed a police officer and Davis on a darkened street confronting the thieves.

"That's my grill right here," Davis can be heard saying from behind the camera. "He got a lock on it."

Thieves dragged off Duane "Shorty" Davis' $5,000 grill, the one he's used to feed the homeless and neighborhoods across Baltimore.

The man eventually unhooked the grill and turned it back over to Davis.

Davis praised the people who helped spread the word about the missing grill.

"We Love BALTIMORE and BALTIMORE loves Shorty's Bootleg BBQ...... THANKS for helping me get my GRILL Back. This GRILL saves LIVES AND BUILDS COMMUNITY," Davis wrote on Facebook.

Davis, a frequent critic of police, said officers had done little to help him after the theft.

"None of your officers reported this grill and they been seeing it alllllll day long," he posted.

A police spokesman declined to comment.

On Saturday, Davis, with grill in tow, was at Corinthian Restaurant and Lounge in Windsor Mill setting up to barbecue for Sunday's Ravens game. Customers and staff approached him to say how glad they were that he'd got the grill back.

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Davis, who called himself Bea Gaddy on wheels, had used the grill to further his activism, holding events to feed and educate people in the community at the same time.

The grill was taken after an event in West Baltimore last weekend, Davis said Friday.

"I was sick. I was mad. I was upset," he said. "Who would do something like that? If you need my grill, all you had to do was ask."

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