Thursday, March 24, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Ring and a Prayer
With gold and other precious metals commanding sky high prices these days, crooks are targeting jewelry at every opportunity, and for one young military couple that kind of greed appears to have cost them dearly. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with their story in a special assignment report Ring and a Prayer.
WSVN -- Brian Tichenor is a Navy lieutenant. His fiancé Liz Murphy is a coast guard reservist. Their jobs, to serve and defend our country, but now the pair is looking for a little help themselves.
Brian Tichenor: "I would say Afghanistan compared to this was a little less stressful."
What could be more stressful than living in a war zone? Brian says it is being the target of a thief, who ripped the heart out of his marriage proposal by stealing the ring. He spent $8,000 on this stunning yellow diamond ring in a platinum setting, and had the proposal all planned.
Brian Tichenor: "They take you out to sea in Key West for a beautiful sunset. I had already talked to the captain, I was going to present her with a little book that I had made for her, and her ring, and ask her to marry me."
But he left the ring in the car when the couple stopped at a Key Largo restaurant and someone stole it.
Brian Tichenor: "I just felt lost. Helpless that this ring was gone."
Brian Tichenor: "Everything I had planned for, and the perfect proposal to the perfect girl, was kind of going very south, very fast."
Detective Jason Madnick, Monroe County Sheriff's Office: "It's quite common in the Keys, as well as all over."
Police say the burglar used a device to unlock the car's door. Fingerprints were lifted and local pawn shops were notified, but so far the ring has not turned up.
Detective Jason Madnick: "This ring could be anywhere in the United States. This ring could be anywhere overseas."
On another girl's finger? Maybe. But authorities say the ring may not even be in one piece anymore. With the explosion of businesses buying precious metals no questions asked, it's quite possible the platinum and any evidence of a crime could already be melted away.
Detective Jason Madnick: "This goes on all over the place, so it's just a very difficult process to try and follow."
The statistics from state law enforcement officials are staggering, almost $246 million in jewelry and precious metals stolen in Florida in 2009. Of that, the amount recovered a little more than 11 million.
Brian and Liz, who now live in Virginia, are hoping by putting the word out in South Florida they may get lucky.
Brian Tichenor: "Maybe somebody, with a little bit of a heart, can anonymously, or with identity known, turn this into somebody that can get it back to us."
In case you're wondering, Brian still proposed minus the ring and she said yes.
Liz Murphy: "I was just excited that we had made the decision to spend the rest of our lives together."
In the meantime, Liz wears a family heirloom on her ring finger.
Brian Tichenor: "I would like, one day, to be able to give that ring back to her dad, and have her ring, and I guess get down on my knee again and ask her to marry me once more."
Carmel: Experts say these days it is more important than ever to protect your "bling." Keep receipts, take pictures and make sure high end jewelry is insured. Then, if you are a victim, you won't have to rely on a "ring and a prayer" to at least recover the value.
You have any information about the ring you can call Monroe County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-346-tips.
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