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by Abigail Van Buren

Pawn Shop Inventory Helps Police Track Stolen Ring

DEAR ABBY: I recently had an experience that might be of help to others. I have lived in a nursing home for the last 15 years because of multiple sclerosis. Near the end of June, my diamond ring was stolen out of my purse. For two weeks I was hot, then cold about calling the police or pawn shops, telling myself, "What are they going to do about it? A pawn shop won't admit it has stolen merchandise." Finally, I decided what harm can it do?

The man at the second pawn shop I called said, "We have 150 rings come in here a day, and we have a lot of people working here. I wouldn't necessarily see that ring if it did come in. Call the pawn shop squad at the police department. Every day, every pawn shop in the city is required to send this squad a list of everything they've taken in that day."

I called, and 24 hours later the detective called back with the news that he had my ring. No one to whom I have told this story has ever heard of the pawn shop squad, so a friend suggested I tell you about it. I'm assuming other cities have the same setup.

A lot of jewelry is stolen in nursing homes. I'm just realizing much of it could be recovered if people knew enough to call this squad. The aide who was responsible for the theft of my ring used her driver's license as ID. Her signature verified it. She's out on bail now, awaiting disposition of the case. -- HAPPY IN BUFFALO, N.Y.

DEAR HAPPY: In many cities, owners of pawn shops are required to forward their inventory lists to the police, who review them. However, not all police departments have "pawn shop squads" such as the one you describe, nor do they encourage direct communication of this kind.

Victims of theft should immediately report it to the police by filing a formal police report.

DEAR ABBY: Recently a young woman asked you how to mend a broken heart. Part of your advice was to get rid of everything -- photos, mementos, gifts -- that remind her of him. I disagree.

Our lives are a story, and stories are held in pictures and gifts. You should have told her she might put them out of sight, but the truth is our memories come from our hearts.

I am 42 years old and have been "in love" several times. I have been married to my husband for 10 wonderful years, but we both had lives and loves before we met. On the day we married, we both gathered and boxed up our years of memorabilia. We labeled them "Joan's Bones" and "David's Bones."

Our earlier treasures are part of who we were and part of who we have become. It will not help to destroy tangible items when the heart has already been affected in an intangible way. -- JOAN IN OREGON

DEAR JOAN: Doing away with painful reminders can provide a much-needed cleansing and speed the healing process. I see nothing wrong with keeping souvenirs. However, keeping them in plain sight can be very depressing just after a relationship has ended. Therefore, I advise putting them out of sight while the wounds are fresh.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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