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Diamonds recovered in Utah may be linked to Denver heist

Published September 2, 2011 8:41 am

Crime • Salina officer discovers rings during stop, arrests couple.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An alert Salina police officer's discovery Thursday morning may have helped authorities solve a jewelry heist that happened hundreds of miles away.

The officer was performing a routine stop when pulling over a passenger car, carrying a man and a woman, on Interstate 70.

But inside the trunk of the car was a shirt wrapped around a bag filled with diamond rings. Officers said they found others inside the woman's pockets.

In all, authorities said they found more than 100 diamond rings, valued at about $400,000.

Officers believe the loot is connected to jewelry stolen last month from a Denver-area store, said Salina Police Chief Greg Harwood.

"You always feel good when you can put a case like that together," he said. "That's good police work."

The two suspects, a 21-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman, are from Aurora, Colo., he said.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson stopped short of confirming the jewelry was from the heist but said city detectives are investigating to see if the rings were stolen during an Aug. 24 armed robbery at Sonny's Rocks in Denver.

"We're looking at that because that's the largest jewelry heist we've had recently," he said. "They took a large amount of jewelry."

The Denver Post reported at the time that two male robbers dressed like clowns broke into the store about midday and forced the employees to the ground before fleeing with the jewelry. The men painted their faces white, with black paint around their lips. One man wore a blond wig and blue scrubs, the Post reported.

Jackson said the robbery was captured on surveillance video, which was released to the media in hopes of catching the robbers.

He would not say if diamond rings were among the jewelry stolen.

Denver detectives are working with Salina police and the Utah Highway Patrol, he said.

Harwood said the suspects didn't want to speak with officers, but he was expecting Denver police to arrive in Salina on Friday.

And while the find was "unique," he said it's not the weirdest thing an officer has recovered.

"We're right on I-70 so we find all sorts of weird stuff," Harwood said. "So it's not really the weirdest. It's different. It's unique."

jstecklein@sltrib.comTwitter @sltribjanelle