It’s funny how something worth up to $10,000.00 and filled with a lifetime of memories and sentimental value can be traded for just $30 cash. Especially by someone trusted into the home of the owner.
A Kelseyville man reported to the Lake County Sheriff’s office that his wife’s wedding ring was missing, and he suspected it had been stolen. The ring, he reported to deputies, had been purchased sixty years ago, in 1954, for $1,000.00. He estimated that it was probably worth 8 to 10 times that amount now. The ring is platinum and holds three diamonds.
He had taken it from his wife for safekeeping six weeks prior when she was admitted to the hospital. He said he had placed it on a shelf in the kitchen, and remembered seeing it three weeks ago. He didn’t notice it was missing, however, until Saturday, March 15 when he wanted to bring it to his wife so she could wear it when she was released from the hospital and came home. He contacted the Sheriff’s office then, and they came to investigate at 9 pm that evening.
According to Steve Brooks of the Sheriff’s office, the man told the deputies that the only people who had been in his house during that time were his grandchildren and a neighbor named Cesar, who does part time work for him, including some work in the kitchen. He didn’t know Cesar’s last name, but said he lives down the street and gave them his phone number. A check of the database in the Sheriff’s office identified Cesar Chavez Barba as a Kelseyville resident who had the same number. The Sheriff’s office also checked their system and found that Barba had pawned a ring just over a week before, on Thursday, March 6.
California law requires pawn brokers to file daily reports to their local law enforcement agency of their transactions, whether they are buying items outright, or holding them as loan collateral. The report must contain the name and address of the seller or “pledger”, and a copy of the person’s valid ID. They also collect a fingerprint and a signed certification that they are the lawful owner of the property, or authorized by the owner to use it as collateral. The broker is also required to hold property for at least 30 days after receiving it, whether they bought it or were not repaid for the loan.
By Tuesday, March 18, the investigating deputy had located the original pawn slip for the ring he had sold for $30.00, which included his thumb print, drivers license number, and date of birth. The deputy asked the shop owner to place a hold on the ring while further identification was made. The deputy showed the victim a picture of the pawn shop ring, and he positively identified it as his wife’s missing wedding ring. It was collected from the pawn broker to be returned to the couple.
On Monday of this week at 10:45 am, deputies contacted Cesar Barba and showed him a picture of the ring from the pawn shop, asking if he recognized it. Barba initially said no, he didn’t know anything about it. Pressed with the overwhelming evidence that he knew a lot about it, he finally admitted that he had pawned the ring for 30 bucks, but claimed that he had simply found it on the couple’s driveway while he was drunk.
Barba was booked at the Hill Road Correctional facility on charges of grand theft, with the additional charge of theft of an elder, since the victims were over 65 years old. He is in custody with bail set at $15,000. He also owes the pawn shop $30.