Tip leads dive teams to recovery of safe, jewelry from local pond

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

May 15, 2007 - Scuba gear and a tip from a confidential informant have resulted in one arrest and the recovery of a safe and jewelry from a pond in Hopkins County.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Texas Department of Public Safety Dive Team member Brandon Curlee (left) shows fellow team member Jacob Farley one of the Masonic tie pins he recovered during the dive team's search of a pond on County Road 3504 Tuesday.

The family first contacted Hopkins County sheriff's officers about two months ago when the safe and jewelry were stolen from their house, including wedding rings, class rings and Masonic memorabilia, all valued at about $10,000.

But the family considered the stolen goods priceless because of sentimental value — the Masonic jewelry belonged to the complainant's late grandfather.

Until three weeks ago, authorities held little hope of the family ever recovering the pieces. But a tip led officials to County Road 3504, where a safe and the stolen items were believed to have been dumped into a pond. 

Tatum contacted Sulphur Springs Dive Team members, who began a preliminary search of the pond. The dive team recovered the safe, which was stolen from the residence on State Highway 19 south just off FM 1567. 

Following up on other clues, officers were able to tie Jordan Jones to the burglary. A warrant was issued and Jones was arrested for the burglary, and the investigation continued.

Texas Ranger Phillip Kemp has since contacted the Texas Department of Public Safety Dive team, which began searching the pond for the stolen jewelry around 9 a.m. today.

"They are working a pattern with metal detectors to try to find the jewelry," Hopkins County Sheriff's Investigator Lewis Tatum said just after 11 a.m. today. "So far, they've found at least five or six items and are still pulling out stuff. They'll stay today until they've finished the search pattern."

The DPS Dive Team, lead by Lt. Mike Tacguard, had recovered Masonic cuff links and tie pins, and class rings "from the 1959 era." They were still hoping to find two wedding ring sets, Masonic belt buckles and other items.

Tatum said the investigation into the burglary is ongoing and could lead to more arrests.

"We'll get with the district attorney and see how he wants to do the rest of it," Tatum said. "There may be more [arrests]."

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