LANCASTER – A woman who recently had thousands of dollars’ worth of priceless heirlooms and other fine jewelry stolen from her home is offering a reward for any information regarding the theft.
“If I get one piece of any of this back, I will be happy,” said Debbie Calvert. “It’s almost like losing a relative, losing a loved one because there’s no closure. Maybe having a relative kidnapped because you think they’re still alive somewhere, but there’s no closure.”
The burglary occurred April 29 near 24th Street West and Avenue K in the College Terrace Area, she said.
The burglars had a three hour window where no one was home, she said. During that time, they went through Calvert’s Victorian jewelry box, all of the drawers in her bedroom, and a backup jewelry box in her guest room taking all the precious stones and leaving most of the costume jewelry.
“Having custom made things and things that I’ve inherited, those are pieces of my family, pieces of my heritage that were taken with abandon,” Calvert said. “…that’s what makes it even harder. It’s that somebody who has no respect, who has no clue of the meaning of these pieces and they steal it, and I just want some justice.”
Calvert said among the items stolen from her home was her 1.5-carat yellow gold and diamond custom ring that was an heirloom from her Aunt, a 1-carat sapphire and diamond white gold ring, and Calvert’s Paraclete High School Ring (class of 1974).
The thieves left all the electronic items in the house, she said, making it clear that they were only after the jewelry.
“Interestingly enough, even the sheriff found this interesting, they didn’t take my laptop that was on the desk, they didn’t take my iPad that was on the desk next to the laptop, they didn’t take any televisions, none of my cameras, nothing electronic,” she said. “They were in there for the jewelry.”
Investigators believe the theft may have been committed by someone the family knows because they knew what was there to take, where the jewelry was kept and that it was not in a locked vault, Calvert said.
“It just infuriates me that, number one, if it is someone we knew, or know, how they could even have the audacity to break into my home and do that,” she said. “And number two, they have taken away a degree of safety and security that I feel at home.”
Due to the anxiety of the break in, Calvert said she needed to go to a therapist, as well as bring in new security measures to her home.
“Just the thought of someone being in my house. It just is very unnerving,” Calvert said.
“This to me is a personal rape when someone comes in and takes your personal items, your objects,” Calvert added. “It’s just objects. I wasn’t hurt, my kids weren’t hurt, my husband wasn’t hurt but right now I’m at the point where that isn’t enough for me.”
Calvert said she has been going to the local pawn shops every week to check for her stolen jewelry, but nothing has turned up yet.
“I don’t know where the stuff is,” she said. “They could have melted it down and sold it for scrap, I don’t know that. It would break my heart if I found out about that.”
If she does find a piece of jewelry at a pawn shop, the owner will have to set it aside and report it to the sheriff’s department, Calvert said.
The sheriff’s department will then check to see if it matches a description in the police report and give authorization for the pawn shop to sell it back to Calvert for whatever the pawn shop paid the person they bought it from.
“It’s going to be kind of a double edged pain there because even if I’m getting back something that was mine and that was stolen, I’m having to buy it back,” Calvert said. “And the money that I’m getting from the insurance company doesn’t even touch one page (of the value of the items in the police report).”
After filing a claim with her insurance agency, Calvert said she found out she was underinsured and would only receive $1,500 of coverage on everything.
“When she (my insurance agent) told me that, I just broke down and cried again because that won’t even touch one ring of valuation…well maybe one or two,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to keep communication with your insurance agent if you have your homeowners insurance and you come into an inheritance of jewelry and precious things like that.”
Several other burglaries have occurred in the area over the last six months, said Sergeant Mark Machanic of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Because jewelry was stolen from the other homes as well, Sgt. Machanic said they are trying to determine if they are related to this one.
There have been no witnesses to any of these robberies, so it’s been difficult for the team to pursue any leads, he said.
Calvert, however, said she received an anonymous call from an older woman about a week after the robbery with a description of someone in the area of her home Sunday evening.
“(She) left an anonymous voicemail stating ‘I’m sorry Debbie that you were robbed,’” Calvert said. “’I heard from the other neighbors about the incident, I remember seeing a young brown-haired man and a young blonde-haired woman going in the side gate of your house as I was leaving the neighborhood. I hope you find some of your pieces. So sorry.’ And then she hung up.”
The problem with that tip is that there isn’t enough of a description for investigators to go off of, she said. Also, Calvert said she shares a fence with neighbors that fit that description and it may be that they were going to their own home at the time.
When Calvert arrived home at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 29, she said she found that her garage door was broken. Investigators believe that while Calvert was messing with the garage, the thieves ran out the front door, she said.
“You can tell they were in a hurry at the end because one set of pearls was dropped, a ruby ring was dropped. The path like a trail of breadcrumbs with Hansel and Gretel to the front door,” she said.
Calvert said the burglars stole about $35,000 in fine jewelry, including white and yellow gold, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, jade, citrine, amethyst, white and black diamonds. There are 38 rings, four pairs of earrings and a necklace listed as stolen on Calvert’s police report. She has offered to negotiate a reward for information leading to the return of any or all of the stolen items.
Anyone with information on this crime is urged to contact Sgt. Mark Machanic at the Lancaster Station at 661-948-8466.