Several decades after they were stolen, a collection of items belonging to Patti Smith have been returned to their rightful owner.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the exchange took place Oct. 11, when Smith visited Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., to host a discussion of her recently published memoir, M Train. The items were tied to a theft that took place after Smith's gig at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom in the summer of 1979.

Jeff Shaw, a member of Smith's road crew at the time, told the Tribune they lost an entire Ryder rental truck, which was stolen after he drove it to the hotel where they spent the night after the show. Even though the police were involved, Shaw didn't think anything was recovered from the theft; as he recalled, "We had to buy all brand-new equipment after receiving insurance money."

Though the truck was never found, a woman named Noreen Bender claims to have been the recipient of a portion of the haul, which she says was brought to her home by a friend of a roommate she had at the time. After dividing up the contents, she realized some of Smith's personal belongings were part of the inventory, including clothing she ended up keeping. "I just thought, 'Oh my god, these are her clothes,'" Bender told the Tribune. "'They still have her sweat on them.'"

Eventually Bender had a change of heart, but wanted to wait until she could return Smith's belongings personally. It's unclear whether Bender realized the significance of the shirt she took, but at the Dominican talk, Smith reportedly recognized it immediately. "Smith identified the sheer top as the one she donned on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine for the July 27, 1978, issue," reads the Tribune's report. "The cloth belonged to her brother and road manager, Todd Smith, who died in 1994, she said."

The interaction between the pair was described as "a very tender moment" by another audience member, and Bender — who said her hands shook as she spoke with Smith — came away elated. "The feeling of making your hero happy, it was a moment," she said. "It was the highlight of my life."

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