String of jewelry thefts hit peninsula

Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Soldotna police and Alaska State Troopers are investigating four recent jewelry store break-ins at businesses between Soldotna and Sterling.

Police were called to investigate a burglary at Thompson's Log Gifts that reportedly occurred sometime Thursday night.

A burglar or burglars entered the store and took an undetermined amount of gold jewelry from display cases. Police found fingerprints at the scene, and an investigation is ongoing.

The burglary came just two days after Soldotna police responded to an alarm at Homestead Jewelers, also on the Sterling Highway, and found a thief or thieves broke a window and took jewelry from a display case.

The estimated damage to the Homestead Jewelers building was $5,000, and the value of the stolen items has not yet been determined.

Police said evidence at the scene indicates the suspect was injured while entering or leaving the building.

Two burglaries were reported by Alaska Horn and Antler at its new location in the former Chevron gas station in Sterling.

Although an inventory of stolen items has not been completed, shop owner Tom Cooper said a preliminary estimate sets the total at more than $20,000.

While waiting for completion of the new Kenai Landing retail space, Cooper and his wife, Linda, decided to open a second location on Memorial Day weekend and just five weeks later, on July 4, a thief or thieves broke the window out of a back door and entered the shop.

Ivory and bead bracelets and necklaces, some imitation bear claws and some hematite jewelry were taken, according to Tom Cooper.

"Except for the ivory, it was just costume jewelry. We thought it was just kids," he said.

Three days later, the shop was hit again.

This time, thieves smashed a hole in a side thermal pane window and left with an $1,100 ram horn carving by Cooper, a half dozen caribou carvings, two Don Connors antler carvings and a Lyle Johnson moose antler carving.

Also missing were a dozen scrimshaw engraved knives, a dozen Maynard Linder steel knives with bone and antler handles, a number of ulus and some Dale Duby obsidian knives.

Ivory necklaces, fossil mammoth ivory bracelets and some other smaller carvings also were taken.

The Coopers have decided to remove all their inventory from the new shop and have added security measures at their 21-year-old store also on the Sterling Highway near Longmere Lake.

Troopers found fingerprints and boot prints at the scene of the Sterling burglaries and are investigating along with Soldotna police.

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