Local News

Detectives working to return stolen jewelry to owners

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Spokane Police used an elaborate sting operation to snare a Valley businessman suspected of buying thousands of dollars in stolen property and now they have a new problem: Returning all the stolen loot to its rightful owners.

You can still get manicures at Super Nails, located near Mission and Pines in Spokane Valley, but what police say you can't do is sell stolen property taken in residential burglaries. Detectives report the salon was not only an outlet for manis and pedis but for two years was also a fencing operation for stolen property.

Beginning in July, Tien Le told undercover investigators that he would buy all the gold and jewelry he could get his hands on, including high end watches that he would ship to friends or family in Vietnam.

Detectives, posing as burglars, then started showing up with electronics at the salon that was represented as being stolen and Le allegedly bought it.

Stolen jewelry recovery

"The burglars would break into homes, steal property, and then fence it to Mr. Le, and then he would serve as a repository for all those stolen goods," Spokane Police spokesperson Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said.

When detectives searched Le's 5 Mile home they seized more than 25 pounds of jewelry.

"We recovered several what would be best described as family heirloom pieces, engraved pocket watches or wrist watches," Detective Brian Tafoya said.

Following the recovery detectives began the process of photographing and cataloging more than 500 pieces of jewelry in the hopes of returning them to their rightful owners.

"What we're going to be doing over the next few weeks is collecting all this evidence and tagging it and then I hope to be able to put out photos of these items so we can hopefully get in contact with the rightful owners," DeRuwe said.

Only people who have previously filed burglary reports will have a chance to reclaim their valuables.