2017-12-07 / Front Page

Gems worth thousands recovered by inspectors with Sheriff’s Office

By JANE ELLYN AARON
news editor


Major Jim Wallen, inspector with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, showcases the recently recovered minerals, collectively valued at over $40,000, that were stollen in October from the bi-annual “Rock Swap and Dig” on Graves Mountain. Major Jim Wallen, inspector with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, showcases the recently recovered minerals, collectively valued at over $40,000, that were stollen in October from the bi-annual “Rock Swap and Dig” on Graves Mountain. Thousands of dollars worth of minerals taken from Graves Moun­tain back in October were recently recovered by investigators with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, providing great relief not only to the caretaker of the mountain, Junior Norman, but also to several others who had the precious miner­als stolen from them.

The gems were estimated at a value nearing $50,000, and were taken during the bi-annual “Rock Swap and Dig” the weekend of October 8.

According to Major Jim Wallen, lead investigator with the office, the gems were recovered on Sun­day, November 26, after they were left sitting on the front steps of St. Paul’s Methodist Church on the Thomson Highway in Lincolnton.

Accompanying the returned min­erals was a letter of apology.

“There was a note there that said, ‘Please turn these in to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office,’” Wallen said. “There was another note apologizing for what he had done.”

An unnamed suspect from the Atlanta area has been in question throughout the investigation. Wal­len further explained that after making a phone call to the sus­pected individual on November 25, the minerals appeared at the church the following morning.

No charges have been brought against the suspect at this time.

“We’re currently in the process of going through the different minerals, and we’ve had Junior Norman verify them. We’ve had several people call and claim what was stolen from them,” Wallen re­ported at the time of recovery.

According to the inspector, five different individuals had minerals stolen from them, and there’s a possibility that a few of the gems are still unaccounted for.

While the investigation is still on-going, the law enforcement team involved in the investiga­tion is never-the-less jubilant that the bulk of the minerals has been returned.

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