Carpet cleaner accused of stealing fine jewelry from client

Deputies say suspect pawned items

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – A carpet cleaner is accused of stealing a valuable ring and earrings from a client and pawning the items, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said a woman called them on April 29 to report that a garnet ring valued at $8,000 and a pair of diamond hoop earrings worth $4,500 had been stolen from her home. The victim noticed the items were missing on Feb. 24, four days after she had her carpets cleaned. She said she waited to report them stolen until she could verify that they had not been misplaced.

"(The suspect) took two pieces of jewelry and, of course, it was very sentimental to our victim. Her mom gave it to her a long time ago," Sgt. Michael Lagana said.

She said the carpet cleaner was the only person who had been in her home in that time frame, according to the arrest report.

Deputies said the owner of Pat's Chem Dry was distraught to hear what had happened and identified the employee who had been in the victim's home as 21-year-old Christian Lane. The owner said he attends church with Lane's mother so he hired Lane as a favor to her.

A search of a pawn database found that Lane sold the earrings and the ring to a pawnshop in Palm Coast in February, according to the affidavit. By the time deputies went to the shop in May, the ring had been pieced out and melted down and the earrings had been sold. The pawnshop gave Lane $250 for the ring, records show.

"We're talking $(10,000) to $11,000 worth of jewelry and he got $100 to $300 for it," Lagana said.

Deputies said they learned that an engagement ring that was pawned the same time as the other items had been stolen from a couple. 

"When the policeman came and told us it had been stolen, we didn't even know it," the husband said.

The couple declined to reveal their identity but said they're thankful to have the sentimental piece of jewelry back home and are staying loyal to the business owner.

"We've used Pat's Chem Dry for 15 years and he's always done a great job. It's unfortunate what happened. We don't hold him responsible whatsoever and we will use him again," the husband said.

Lane was interviewed Monday at his apartment and admitted to pawning the items because he "needed money to pay for items in addition to rent," the report said.

He was arrested on charges of dealing in stolen property, two counts of grand theft and false verification of ownership. He's being held at the Flagler County Jail.

Lane had his bond reduced to $7,500 since it's his first arrest and deputies said he plans on mailing an apology letter to the victim.

"He doesn't seem to be a bad kid. He's young, he made a mistake. He's going to have to answer for his mistake but he's very remorseful for it," Lagana said.

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