BANGOR, Maine — Steve Dunning does not know the value of the dainty little pearl necklace that has been in his family for generations, and it doesn’t matter. To him, it’s priceless.
The heirloom necklace was taken by thieves from his Bomarc Road home in early September, and Dunning thought it was lost forever.
“It was passed down from my great-grandmother, to my grandmother to my mother,” he said Thursday. “My mother didn’t have any daughters, so she gave it to me. My plan was to give it to my daughter when she got married.”
Dunning said he got an early Christmas present on Wednesday when a Bangor police officer showed up at his door with everything that was stolen from his condominium three months ago, including the pearl necklace.
When he initially reported the thefts, “I told them that … all I cared about was the necklace,” Dunning said. “We actually got everything back, and that really surprised me. I was especially pleased to get [the pearl necklace] back.
“Bangor PD did a fantastic job as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
The thief or thieves who broke into his home were careful when they removed his 47-inch flat screen TV, his surround sound system and receiver, and DVD recorder, making sure to unplug everything and even select the correct remotes. In addition to the necklace, a pair of pearl earrings was taken.
Police recovered the stolen items from one of Dunning’s neighbors, and the 21-year-old male and others are facing several burglary and burglary to motor vehicle charges, Sgt. Paul Edwards said in a press release. The suspect has not been arrested so his name was not released.
“I live five doors down from one of the guys who did it,” Dunning said. “He’s the one who had the pearls. When he was told the story about the pearls by police, he went and got them.
“For whatever reason, I feel bad for him,” Dunning added. “I certainly hope” he turns his life around. “It would make a nice ending to the story.”
When Dunning returned home after a weeklong vacation in New Hampshire in September, he didn’t notice anything wrong at first.
“Nothing was disturbed,” he said. “I walked into the kitchen, and I turned around and said ‘Something’s missing.’ It was the first time anything like that has happened to me.”
In fact, “It was a day or two afterwards [when] I realized the pearls were gone,” Dunning said.
Since the break-in, Dunning has replaced his old and inferior doorknob locks with dead bolts and a security system, he said.
His mother gave Dunning the pearls when he was in his 20s.
“I’m 62, so I’ve had them for about 40 years,” he said.
He hopes his daughter Jessica Dunning, 27, will wear them on her wedding day. The plan is to bequeath the pearl earrings to his other daughter, Stephanie Dunning, 38.
The antique pearl necklace has never been appraised, so Dunning has no idea of its value.
“It could be appraised at $200 or $200,000,” he said.
For him, the true value is its legacy with his family.
Getting it back, he said, has “been a good Christmas present.”