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PAXTON — Richard Hewerdine credits Paxton police with doing “everything they could” to recover some of the estimated $175,000 in jewelry and coins stolen from his downtown store over the past four months.
And he accepts there is probably not much else that can be done to recover the rest.
“All the gold, diamonds — everything that’s worth a darn — is gone,” Hewerdine said Monday, noting none of the stolen items were insured. “All that’s (recovered) is the silver, which is maybe 2 percent of the value” of what was stolen.
Three Danville men were charged last week in connection with two recent burglaries at Hewerdine’s Coin & Jewelry, operated out of the second floor of the Paxton post office, 209 S. Market St.
The burglaries, which occurred Jan. 21, 2013, and Sept. 26, 2012, were the first in the store’s 22-year existence and involved the theft of a total of $150,000 to $175,000 in jewelry and coins, Hewerdine said.
“Everything that was out (on display) they took — everything that wasn’t in the vault,” Hewerdine said.
Paxton Police Chief Bob Bane said “good police work” led to last week’s arrest of Ryan M. Banks, 28, Brandon M. Enos, 27, and Ryan P. McLaughlin, 26, all of Danville.
All three men had been customers of the 77-year-old Hewerdine and had visited his store several times, Bane said.
Each is charged in Ford County Circuit Court with one count of burglary, a Class 2 felony, in connection with the Jan. 21 crime. Enos is charged additionally with one count of possession of stolen property ($500 to $10,000), a Class 3 felony.
All three have posted $5,000 cash — 10 percent of their $50,000 bonds — to be released from the Ford County Jail.
Banks and McLaughlin are due in court for a bond hearing March 6, while Enos is due in court for a preliminary hearing March 11.
Following the second burglary, Bane said, police “developed information” that led to Enos’ suspected involvement in both burglaries.
Using a computerized system shared by law enforcement agencies nationwide, Paxton police learned that Enos had went to Las Vegas the week prior to his arrest and, while there, had sold six items of jewelry to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, whose owners are the hosts of the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars,” Bane said.
Police also learned that Enos sold jewelry to a pawn shop in Flagstaff, Ariz., Bane said.
Bane said police later determined that Enos had also sold jewelry to a gas station that buys it: the BP gas station at the intersection of Fairchild and Vermilion streets in Danville.
Police said some of the items sold at all three locations were positively identified as Hewerdine’s.
Then on Feb. 5, Paxton police executed a search warrant, with the assistance of Danville police, at Enos’ home in the 1600 block of Oak Street in Danville, where they recovered jewelry and coins believed to be stolen from Hewerdine’s store.
Enos later arrived at his home, and police found several items of jewelry on his person, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ford County Circuit Court.
Enos then admitted to the Jan. 21 burglary, the complaint said.
The following day, Bane said, the Vermilion County Sheriff’s Office and Danville police arrested Banks, who listed an address in the 1600 block of North Walnut Street, and McLaughlin, who listed an address in the 700 block of Perrysville Road, on Ford County warrants.
Bane said police recovered a “large amount” of stolen property “connecting both burglaries to these three men.” But Bane declined to provide an estimated value for the amount recovered, since police “have a different opinion from Mr. Hewerdine,” Bane said.
According to Bane, Hewerdine estimates that $100,000 worth of jewelry and coins was stolen during the first burglary in September and $50,000 to $75,000 during the second burglary. But Hewerdine said the amount recovered by police does not come close to that amount.
“They stole 1,000 rings probably — at least,” Hewerdine said. “They stole approximately $200,000 worth, and I’ve got back maybe $3,000 worth. The rest is apparently gone.”
Bane noted that all pawn shops around East Central Illinois were checked, but no property from Hewerdine’s store was found at those stores.
Hewerdine said he has “not a penny” of insurance to cover the losses.
“It wasn’t insured because I would have to inventory every month to insure it, and I couldn’t possibly go through an inventory. It would take me over a month to inventory,” Hewerdine said.
Hewerdine said he is frustrated but accepts he will not get much of his property back.
“What the heck can I do?” the semi-retired Paxton man said. “I’m trying to buy medicine for my wife, who has cancer and Parkinson’s, and I’m trying to keep my head afloat, and then people like this come in and try to destroy you and rob you twice in a month.”
Hewerdine said he is pleased with the work of the Paxton police to solve the crimes, but he is disappointed all three suspects are already out of jail.
“When you steal $200,000 and only have to put up $5,000 to get out of jail, does that make sense?” Hewerdine said.
Bane declined to disclose how the men twice managed to break into the post office — a federal building — but he said police do know how the break-in occurred.
District 21 Illinois State Police and a state police crime-scene investigator are assisting in the investigation. Bane said forensic evidence collected at the crime scene is awaiting analysis at a state crime lab in Morton.