Newport News woman devastated from jewelry theft

WAVY/Walter Hildebrand

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Ruth Owens still laments the theft of cherished jewelry more than a year later. A carpet cleaner hired by her landlord made off with her rings.

“Things I had accumulated over the past 40 years,” she said. “Like now, when I get ready for church, I don’t have my rings to match whatever I’m wearing. Or if I go to a function or something, I don’t have my nice rings.”

After being caught breaking into Owen’s home, Ryan J. Riddler, 26, was charged in February 2013 with petit larceny, possession of schedule I or II drug and statutory burglary, according to Amanda Howie with the Office of the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney.

“He just cleaned house, and if we hadn’t caught him, he might have continued to take my stuff,” she said.

Months before the theft, she met Riddler when he first came to clean the carpets. He returned, and one day she arrived to find him inside cleaning carpets. Later, she found a ring missing.

“I looked in the box the ring was gone. The box was sitting on the dresser, so I thought that was all he took at the time,” Owens said.

Then she checked a second jewelry container.

“I went and looked in that jewelry box and all my diamonds, my pearl rings were gone and my watch, in plain sight, laying across my swan where I keep my small earrings, the watch was gone, my cell phone,” she said.

And that was not all.

“Next day or so, my back was hurting me really bead,” Owens said. “I got spine problems, and I went to get my pain medicine and it was gone.”

In the year since Owens first discovered those missing items, she filed a claim for her loss with her renter’s insurance company and has been to court. She also sent a letter to Ridder’s former employer. Now she wants to raise awareness.

“This could be happening to somebody else, cause you don’t know who you’re letting in your house nowadays,” she said. “You can’t trust people.”

In April 2013, Riddler was convicted of petit larceny and sentenced to 12 months in jail, with 11 months suspended if he maintained uniform good behavior for two years. The drug charge was withdrawn. The statutory burglary charge was certified to a Norfolk grand jury, and he pleaded guilty to that charge in July 2013.

Riddler will be sentenced for the burglary charge on March 14. He also faces charges in Chesapeake.

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