Joplin jewelers thwart suspected ring thieves
January 22, 2010 10:37 pm
A Joplin woman got her stolen ring back Thursday when a suspected thief literally coughed it up in front of police.
The ring belonging to Rebecca Moore was inside her purse in a vehicle parked at Northpark Mall when someone broke into the vehicle and stole the purse about noon Thursday. Her husband, Tom Moore, said the two-carat diamond ring — worth about $20,000 — was a family heirloom passed down to his wife from her mother.
“It meant the world to her,” he said.
Moore had just picked the ring back up from Comeau Jewelry store, where she’d had some repair work performed. She drove to the mall lot and parked, leaving her purse in the car while she went inside the mall. She discovered the theft when she came back out, and police were notified at 12:34 p.m.
Less than four hours later, a man and a woman walked into Newton’s Jewelry in downtown Joplin with a ring they wished to have appraised.
Store owner L.T. “Bunny” Newton recognized the ring right away from a picture Comeau’s sent to local jewelers in the wake of the theft. Newton said the diamond was distinctively set between two sapphires and was “easy” to spot.
“So we stalled, and kept weighing and measuring it,” he said.
Newton said the young couple represented the ring as having been her grandmother’s. The man told the jeweler they might be interested in selling it.
The business in the meantime had contacted police. Newton said he suggested that the store might need to steam clean the piece to appraise it properly, as a way of further stalling the couple. About 15 minutes had passed since they first came in.
“He got kind of antsy then,” Newton said. “You could tell he suspected something was going on.”
The man decided to take the ring back from the jeweler at that point, and the couple appeared about to leave when police officers walked into the store.
Newton said he never noticed, but the man must have swallowed the ring when he spotted the police. The officers asked the couple about their ring, and the man told them Newton still had it.
“I told him: ‘No, you took it back from me,’” Newton said.
Officers searched the suspect and could not find the ring. But the man began to cough uncontrollably, Newton said.
“And they kept questioning him, and he kept coughing,” he said. “Finally, he coughed it up.”
It was off to jail next for Cleon L. Harris, 23, and Breanna M. Johnston, 19, both of Joplin. They were charged with receiving stolen property. The arrest caused Harris to miss a court date Friday on a prior felony weapon charge, and another warrant was issued on him while he remained in jail.
Tom Moore said his wife wasn’t up to talking about the matter yet on Friday.
“She’s just very grateful that the retailers at both jewelry stores took the extra time and effort to distribute the information and respond to it,” he said.
He said their gratitude extends to the Joplin Police Department as well.
Thursday’s capture of a couple in alleged possession of a stolen ring was not the first time Joplin jeweler L.T. “Bunny” Newton, 87, has had a brush with lawbreakers or thwarted a crime in progress.
The World War II veteran scuffled with three masked men who invaded his family’s home in 1961 and struck him in the head with a gun. The men fled without accomplishing whatever their goal had been. Almost 20 years later, he was abducted at gunpoint outside his store by members of a four-state crime ring, who robbed him of a ring and cash before letting him go on the west side of town after he feigned a heart attack.
August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008