LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. -- After a 7 month investigation, a rare and very expensive piece of jewelry is back with its owner. The investigation to that led to the recovery of the diamond ring stretched from the Suncoast all the way to New York City's diamond district.
"We were investigating the theft of a unique and very valuable diamond," says Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming discussing a case that reads like it came out of a Pink Panther movie.
"The ring itself had diamonds all over it, but the solitary stone in the center was a 4.5 carat diamond that was appraised at $85,000," Cumming said.
But there are some major differences between this heist and the ones you’ve seen in the movies. One, this took place at an unassuming condo on Longboat Key. Two, the valuable stone eventually made its way into the underground diamond market in New York City.
"While following those leads she was contacted by a New York investigator who indicated that a jewelry clearing house in Manhattan had apparently located our stone," Cumming says.
The police chief says the uniqueness of the stone helped in its recovery. An endeavor master gemologist appraiser Tom Seguin says is very uncommon.
"There's two diamond markets in New York, Canal Street and 47th Street, and they literally have high-rise buildings and every space in one of those building is a jewelry dealer," Seguin says, though he adds that the heist may have been more involved than some people think.
"If you think of someone who's just a criminal and this is just a one-time thing, they would go to a pawn shop or they might go to Tampa,” Seguin says.
But knowing where and when to sell the stones, were no match for this ring's uniqueness. "I’m very grateful we got the one piece back," said the ring's owner Barbara Weech.
Michael Artman, a maintenance worker at the condo, is charged with one burglary and has admitted to at least 10. The police suspect the true number may be higher than 40. Artman is currently in the Manatee County jail.