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.