Aspen jeweler suspected of stealing bracelet
ASPEN – Police arrested an Aspen jeweler Thursday on suspicion of stealing a valuable bracelet after falsely reporting it as being swiped from his car. The jeweler, William Leon Evans, 76, said Friday that he didn’t do anything wrong.
Evans posted $5,000 bond Friday after spending Thursday night in the Pitkin County Jail. Pending charges against Evans include felony theft and a misdemeanor count of false reporting to authorities.
The arrest of Evans stems from a claim he made to Aspen police on Feb. 29 that an 18-carat gold ladies bracelet with diamonds had disappeared from the back seat of his car, which was parked in the City Market lot, according to a statement by Sgt. Dan Davis, of the Aspen Police Department.
Davis said that when he spoke to Evans about the missing bracelet, Evans told him it was 20 years old and a family heirloom.
“He said it was valued at $15,000 but he wasn’t concerned because he had the bracelet insured,” Davis wrote.
Davis then told Evans he would review the video surveillance at City Market to see what happened.
“Evans’ reaction was one of surprise,” Davis wrote. “He asked, ‘They have cameras here?’ I told him yes and pointed out the camera at the front of the store. Evans then said he had been to the post office and Carl’s Pharmacy in Aspen prior to coming to City Market and now he wasn’t sure if the bracelet had been in the back seat. This was contrary to his earlier assertion that the bracelet was in the back seat of the car.
“At this time I became suspicious of Evans’ story. Evans’ demeanor changed and he became uncertain about what to do.”
Davis couldn’t watch the video at that time, so he returned to the police station, where he received a phone call from a woman he described as “frantic.” The woman said she had spoken to Evans, who told her the bracelet had been stolen from his car. The bracelet, the woman said, belonged to her, and in November she had given it and an emerald ring to Evans to be appraised. A previous appraisal of the bracelet showed that it was worth $40,000, the woman said.
“(The caller) said she had been trying to get the bracelet back from Evans for several months but he always had an excuse for not returning the bracelet,” Davis wrote.
As for the ring, which the woman said was worth $250,000, Evans had put it up for consignment at an Aspen jewelry story without the woman’s permission, she told Davis. The woman said she was able to retrieve the ring.
Meanwhile, Davis contacted Evans again, accusing the jeweler of lying to him about the bracelet. “Evans was visibly nervous and his mouth was dry. I asked him where the bracelet was. He denied knowledge of where the bracelet was.”
The same day, Davis learned that Evans had insured the bracelet three days earlier in his name for $12,000.
Evans, in a telephone interview, said he was so upset about the missing bracelet that he had a difficult time concentrating when Davis interviewed him.
“I don’t condemn the police at all,” he said. “But when you have something like that happen, you’re sort of in a frame of mind. … I certainly didn’t say it was a family heirloom. I could have very well said it was mine, though.”
Evans said he took an insurance policy on the bracelet simply because he had driven to California with it about a week before it went missing. It’s a fairly standard practice, he said.
“I’m often carrying things to jewelry shows,” he said. “A lot of people in the jewelry business get robbed.”
He added that he had intended to return the bracelet to his client on the same day it went missing.
“That morning I was going to take her the bracelet, and I put it in the back seat of the car,” he said. “Then I went to the post office and drove to City Market. I turned around to reach behind me and the damn thing was gone. You can imagine I’d practically had a heart attack, and I immediately got on the phone with police.”
As for the bracelet, it remains unfound, Evans said. Evans said he plans to retain an attorney to defend him in Pitkin County District Court, the venue for his case.
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