It’s an horrific moment, when your stomach lurches and you immediately start to sweat. That time where you realize something has been lost or, worse, stolen from you. When that something is an engagement ring, you can magnify that sick feeling a hundred times, because we’re not talking about a car or a TV, which is easily replaced and usually has little sentimental value. Instead, we’re talking about something that could well have been in the family for generations, and has a value attached which a dollar figure could never match.
So do you just write it off to experience, claim on the insurance and move on? That’s one “solution”, but there are things you can try to get your precious ring back.
Report The Theft – Above all else, report the theft to the police, even before you do anything else. Not only will a crime reference be a condition of any insurance claim, but delaying reporting may make your insurance company look at the claim a little more closely. Occasionally the police do find a stash of stolen items in someone’s possession, and they can only match what they find to what they know about.
Also tell your insurance company. If an item is valuable, they will have their own methods for searching likely outlets. The last thing they want is to pay a claim on something that can be recovered, so they will make a serious – albeit automated – effort to help you.
Check Pawn Shops – Assuming your ring wasn’t publicly known and targeted for the theft, it’s true that most thieves rarely operate anywhere outside their immediate locality. Check pawn shops, make local jewelers aware of the theft so they know if they are offered it, speak to other outlets that may deal in pre-owned items of any kind, but especially jewelry. Pawn shops have a legal duty to record the personal information of anybody they do business with, which can help police to catch the thief but, above all else, they have no legal claim on your ring.
The thief has no right of ownership of anything he steals, and therefore has no right to sell any of it. Because of this, transactions on any items brought to a pawn shop are entirely at the risk of the pawn shop owner.
Google Is Your Friend – You know your ring better than anybody, especially if you have an appraisal certificate. You will have an excellent description, the carat weight, color, cut and clarity grading of the diamond plus any other distinguishing features. You will – or should – also have pictures of the ring for identification purposes.
If a thief knows what he/she is selling, they will also know that any description must be fairly accurate to avoid it looking like an obviously suspicious sale. Use this to your advantage and search Google using all the information in the appraisal. Start with a lot of information in a single search, and slowly remove words to broaden it. Thieves know the risks of exposure that things like eBay and Craigslist bring, so they will often put it through a “fence” who will then sell it on again, lengthening the trail back.
Despite this, there’s a good chance that your ring will eventually surface for sale somewhere, and the internet is where it will end up.
eBay And Co. – If a thief doesn’t have an established network of people through whom he can move stolen goods, and most don’t, your ring could turn up for sale on any of the auction and classified ad websites. They may hold onto it for a while, but thieves steal for profit, and they won’t wait forever to realize a return on their hard work.
This again is where knowing what to search will come in handy. Use the words on the appraisal to narrow down your search on each site. Craigslist is a far more popular outlet for stolen goods, so try there first. However, believe it or not, most thieves aren’t geniuses so you may need to be creative.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to buy back your stuff, as this is just likely to complicate things later if it goes wrong. Tell the police that you think you’ve seen your ring online and let them deal with it.
Social Media – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be massively useful at times and, if you apply the 6 degrees of separation principle, you’re only 5 shares away from whoever stole your ring. You never know if someone who you are friends with or who follows you might know someone who knows someone who knows someone…
Let’s be honest, once a theft has occurred, unless you suspect someone in particular, getting your ring back is not the likely outcome. It does happen though, so don’t automatically give up hope. Searching yourself can also often be cathartic, as you’ll know you did everything you could. The last thing you need is a lifetime of wondering if your ring was in a pawn store window a few blocks away, all the time.