LA PAZ, Bolivia — Officials in Bolivia say a valuable, nearly two-century old medallion symbolizing presidential power was stolen, then quickly recovered.

Bolivia's first Congress gave the diamond-encrusted golden medallion in the early 19th Century to South American independence hero Simon Bolivar, for whom the country is named. Presidents wear it at the most solemn official ceremonies.

Police Col. Jhonny Aguilera says a soldier left the medallion inside a bag in his car in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Los Altos late Tuesday. Security cameras showed thieves break in and grab it.

The thieves later called a television station to say they'd left it abandoned outside a church in La Paz, the capital.

President Evo Morales had to appear without the medal Wednesday at a military parade.

The medal's guardian is under investigation.