A Jewel of a Case
by Shirley McCann
Officers Don Craig and Jack Alberts were on patrol when they received the call about a robbery at Gorman’s Fine Jewelry. Hal Tinker, the skinny, nail-biting sales clerk, was beside himself with worry when he unlocked the front door and allowed them entry.
“I didn’t know what else to do,” he told the officers, while trying to block the mass departure of the customers he’d locked in. I’ve only been on the job for a week, and the owner is gonna go ballistic when he finds out I’ve lost a valuable emerald pendant. I’ll probably lose my job over this!”
Once the officers were inside, Tinker quickly locked the door behind them.
“Have any other customers been here and left since you opened up this morning?” Craig asked.
“Not a chance,” Tinker answered defiantly. “As soon as I noticed the necklace missing, I rushed over and locked the doors. No one got out, which means that one of these people had to have taken it.”
“This is insane!” barked an older gentleman with a wooden cane. “Surely you don’t suspect us? My wife and I have been loyal patrons of this store for years.”
“And you are?” asked Officer Alberts.
The man huffed and wrapped an arm around his wife. “We are Mr. and Mrs. John Trimble.” He pointed a bony finger at the clerk. “And let me assure you, young man, once Mr. Gorman hears about how my wife and I have been treated like common criminals, this will be your last day on the job.”
Alberts put both hands in the air and made a suggestion. “Why don’t we just start off by having everyone tell us what they were doing here.”
A tall leggy blonde, with a large shoulder purse, offered her explanation. “I’m Claire Winters,” she spat out. “I work part time at the insurance office two doors down. I had planned to just run in here and find something nice for my boss’s birthday. But I doubt my boss is going to be too pleased with me now, since I’m already thirty minutes late.”
“Under the circumstances, I’m sure your boss will understand,” Alberts insisted.
Next on the list of suspects was a nervous young blonde mother with a baby stroller.
“I’m Sara Bealls,” she offered, with a tremble in her voice. “Little Jimmy and I just came in to use this $10 coupon I received in the mail. I thought I might find a good bargain, but I never dreamed we’d be accused of theft!”
Officer Craig turned to the Trimbles.
“Oh very well,” Mr. Trimble huffed, nodding toward his wife. “We might as well cooperate so we can get this over with quickly. But I can assure you that your boss is gonna hear all about this, Mr. Tinker.”
Mrs. Trimble wiped a tear from her eye. “Our niece is graduating in a few weeks. We thought we might find something special for her in here. Mr. Gorman always has some unique selections on hand.”
The two officers exchanged glances. “Mr. Tinker, are you positive no one could have left before you locked the door?” Craig asked again.
“Absolutely not. These people were the only customers in the store when I brought out the locket. And no one came in after that.”
“What about a security camera,” detective Craig suggested. “Maybe we could view that and see if the theft was caught on camera.”
Hal Tinker laughed. “Are you kidding? Mr. Thomas is so cheap he didn’t even bother to change the name on the door when he bought it two years ago. There’s no way he’d spring for any kind of a security system.”
“Well, this obviously isn’t helping anything,” Mr. Trimble said. “I’ve never been so insulted in all my life. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mrs. Bealls pulls this kind of stunt all the time. After all, it would have been easy for her to slip the necklace from the counter into the stroller. No one would be the wiser.”
“You’ve got a lot of nerve!” Mrs. Bealls screamed. “I’ve never stolen anything in my life.”
She spun around and pointed an accusing finger at Claire. “Why don’t you show everyone what’s in your bag?” she suggested. “You could have easily stashed the pendant in huge purse of yours.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding, lady,” Claire said. “I would never want anything that gaudy. I prefer diamonds.”
Officer Craig turned to his partner. “It appears that everyone here had the opportunity to steal the necklace,” he said. “We could settle this quickly if everyone would just submit to a search of their belongings.”
“You go right ahead,” Mr. Trimble shouted, leaning his cane against the counter and putting his arms out. “I have nothing to hide.”
“Well, neither do I,” Mrs. Bealls exclaimed.
“Neither do I,” Claire stated firmly. “Although I can assure you that if you lay one hand on me, you’ll be hearing from my attorney.”
“There’s no need to call your attorney,” Alberts said. “Although a search would make things a lot easier, I think we can narrow down the list of suspects by starting at the beginning.”
Officer Craig scratched his head. “You’ve got a suspect?”
“I do,” Alberts said. “Abd if you’d been paying attention, you’d know who the thief is too.”
The suspects exchanged worried glances.
Claire started for the door. “I’m not staying around here for this witch hunt,” she exclaimed.
“Me neither,” shouted Mr. Trimble. “I demand you open that door right now.”
Alberts caught Mr. Trimble’s arm and removed his cane. “Not so fast,” he said. He unscrewed the tip, turned it upside down and watched the necklace fall to the floor.
How did Detective Alberts know that Mr. Trimble was the thief?
How did Detective Alberts know that Mr. Trimble was the thief? Trimble said he and the owner, Mr. Gorman, were great friends, but the clerk, Hal, mentioned that Mr. Thomas had bought the place two years ago and never bothered to change the name on the sign. If Trimble really was good friends with the owner, he would have known his name.”