1:00 PM PT -- Cops are now saying they have in fact found the championship belt ... and say the hardware had been valued at $29,250!!!
The Tallahassee Police Department says a citizen found the belt along a local roadway and returned it to the TPD headquarters on Wednesday.
Dramatic twist of events in Chris Jericho's famous stolen belt case ... cops say they found the wrestling legend's hardware -- but then quickly backtracked, and said they didn't!!!
As we previously reported, after winning the AEW championship on Saturday ... Jericho filed a police report with the Tallahassee PD in Florida on Sunday, claiming his belt was jacked.
The story is confusing ... but according to police docs, Jericho says there was some kind of mix-up involving his limo driver at the airport that led to his belt's disappearance.
Fast-forward to Wednesday morning ... when cops heroically announced on social media they found the belt, with a picture of what appears to be a TPD officer holding the hardware!!!
But, when TMZ Sports called to confirm the news ... they would not say if the belt had been indeed found, saying only, "It's still an open and active investigation."
Then, the department deleted the social media post AND the picture of the found belt ... which has us all wondering, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!?!
Either way, doesn't seem Jericho's all that concerned about it ... dude just posted a vid of him sipping champagne in a hot tub!!!
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Cops say they'll make an announcement about the belt later Wednesday ... so stay tuned.
Originally Published -- 7:48 AM PT