Orono couple gets stolen jewelry back

Posted July 19, 2010, at 9:58 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — A suitcase that was reported missing on July 4 was returned to it owners Friday after police reportedly found it and most of its contents in the home of a local man.

As a result, Richard J. Mitchell, 39, of Old Town was arrested on charges of theft of lost, mislaid or mistakenly delivered property, receiving stolen property and violating the conditions of his bail from a previous arrest on a harassment charge, Orono police Capt. Josh Ewing said.

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Ewing said that the couple reported the suitcase missing on July 4. He said the couple told police that they had placed the suitcase on top of their car and forgot about it as they drove off.

“They realized it fairly quickly but by the time they got back it was gone,” Ewing said.

In addition to clothing and other personal items, the suitcase held a silver and opal necklace and earring set that was of great sentimental value to the two because the husband gave it to the wife on their wedding day, Ewing said.

The suitcase also contained a sapphire and diamond necklace and earring set that the owners said was valued at $1,000, Ewing said.

About the time the suitcase went missing, a neighbor saw a man move a suitcase to the side of the road and then drive off, Ewing said. After the man left, the suitcase was gone.

When the neighbor heard about the missing suitcase, she put two and two together and was able to provide a description of the suspect and his vehicle to police and to the owners.

Armed with the description, the husband searched the area, spotted a vehicle on Austin Drive matching the description and called the police.

Ewing said that police arranged a photo lineup and the neighbor identified Mitchell as the man she had seen with the suitcase.

Orono police then obtained and executed a search warrant at Mitchell’s Austin Drive home, Ewing said. There they found the suitcase and most of its contents, including the wedding present.

The sapphire and diamond set, however, was missing.

Ewing said that Mitchell admitted he had sold it to Quality Jeweler for a little over $100. The couple’s jewelry was still at the Bangor store when police went there and the set was returned.

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