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BOARDMAN Cops probe jewel theft



Published: Wed, June 6, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Police are looking into the possible sale of the jewelry.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- Township police are investigating the theft of more than a quarter million dollars' worth of merchandise from a home late last month.

Paul Raptou of Old Oxford Lane came to the township police department May 30 and told officers he was missing three Rolex watches with embedded diamonds, a men's investment grade gold ring, eight diamond rings and 23 additional watches. Total value of the merchandise is estimated to be $268,000. Authorities said Raptou is a jewelry collector.

According to police reports, there were also various documents, including stock certificates, stolen from the residence.

Investigation: Capt. Stephen Balog, Boardman police, said investigators are taking the usual course of investigation -- checking pawn shops and other areas where the merchandise might be sold.

Balog said it is hard to predict what a thief would get from the sale of such high-end merchandise. Finding the right individual to pass the items on to could make the difference, he said.

"Some people are very unsuspecting and while they may not be willing to pay full price, these types of things can go for a substantial amount of money," said Balog.

The person holding the stolen jewelry could simply pose as a collector who has fallen on hard times and is looking to offer a good deal to anyone with enough cash to pay slightly below the set value, he said.

Database: Balog, however, warns that people should be leery about such good deals. He said the Rolex company, for instance, has a company database of all watch purchases and of all Rolex watches entered as stolen.

He said only certain jewelers are equipped to service these types of watches. Once a stolen watch is taken in for service, the serial numbers to the watch are entered into the system and it can be identified as stolen.

Don Fox of King's Jewelers at Southern Park Mall said registration in that system is not automatic. Each Rolex watch sold comes with a guarantee card that must be sent in by the buyer. He said the system could pick up on a stolen watch, but was unsure how likely that is.

No arrest has been made, but Balog said Raptou has an idea who stole the merchandise. At the time of the report he told police he believes a female friend took the items from his home. He said one of the missing watches was given to one of his employees as a gift by the boyfriend of the female he suspects.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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