Jewelers’ suspicions lead to arrest of serial burglars

July 24, 2010

William McBurney


After Atascadero police failed to link a stolen diamond ring report with a report of two suspicious-looking men trying to sell an expensive diamond ring to a jewelry store, the victim took it upon her self and tracked down her wedding ring worth approximately $25,000.

The ring was allegedly stolen out of the victim’s vehicle at her Atascadero residence.

The actions of three employees at K-Jon’s Jewelers in Atascadero and the victim, who officials declined to identify for this story, would lead to the arrests of two men who allegedly burglarized more than 100 cars – including one owned by a police detective – during the past year.

The co-owner of All That Glitters jewelry store in San Luis Obispo was also arrested on suspicion of allegedly receiving stolen property.

On March 23, the victim discovered that her wedding ring, watch and iPod  – valued at about $26,000  – had been stolen out of a pouch she had left in her car overnight.

Atascadero police officer David Sanchez made out an incident report, which he labeled inactive because he had no leads, according to a police report.

A few days later, two men attempted to sell the expensive diamond ring at K-Jon’s Jewelers in Atascadero, police said.

K-Jon’s sales associate Pam Maxville became suspicious of the men, took a photo of the ring, wrote down the license plate numbers from the men’s black Chevrolet pickup truck and told the two that the store did not buy jewelry. She then called police.

Atascadero police officer Keith Falerios told Maxville that the two men from Atascadero were cousins, Bryan Nothstein, 19, and Eugene Kriewitz, 20. Falerios noted that he had interacted with the two men on numerous occasions in the past.

On March 31, Falerios called Kriewitz to verify his address, according to the police report. At the time, Kriewitz was on probation for felony assault with a deadly weapon and Nothstein was free because of a deferred judgment for marijuana possession.

Nevertheless, Falerios, who was unaware of the reported stolen ring, took no other action against the two.

A few weeks later, the owner of the ring and other valuables taken from her car called K-Jon’s to ask if anyone had attempted to hawk her missing wedding ring. After jewelry store employees and the victim were able to identify the missing ring from the photo taken at the store, they called Atascadero police.

K-Jon’s provided police a video camera tape of the two men attempting to sell the ring, photos of the ring and made a positive identification of the suspects, according to the police report.

Police used the evidence to get a search warrant for Krewitz’s and Nothstein’s home in Atascadero. The officers’ search turned up a barrage of stolen property, including a backpack and handcuffs belonging to Atascadero police Detective Nick Coughlin, cell phones, radar detectors, iPods, purses and cameras.

The car thieves allegedly told police that they had broken into approximately 100 cars over a year’s time and that they usually only took cash.

Police arrested Krewitz and Nothstein on suspicion of grand theft, conspiracy and possession of stolen property. Kriewitz was also charged with violating his probation.

Both plead no contest and were sentenced to 90 days in the San Luis Obispo County Jail and three years probation.

As for the victim’s wedding ring, the cousins said they had sold it to All That Glitters in San Luis Obispo for a $204 store check, less than one percent of what the ring was worth.

When Atascadero police asked All That Glitters co-owner William McBurney, 56, if he had bought the ring from the two men, McBurney told police he had not purchased the ring. He noted that he had searched through invoices and check ledgers searching for the alleged purchase.

Police then went back to K-Jon’s for help in identifying the diamond they suspected may have been removed from its setting.

On May 4, an undercover officer – hoping to determine whether All That Glitters actually buys second-hand jewelry without a license, approached the store and asked that it purchase an $8,000 to $11,000 diamond ring. The store offered to buy the ring for $1,800, officers said.

Shortly afterwards, officers, armed with a search warrant, discovered the victim’s wedding ring at All That Glitters.

On June 29, Atascadero police arrested McBurney, the San Luis Obispo store’s co-owner. The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office charged him with two felony counts of receiving stolen property and misdemeanor charges of delaying an officer in the performance of their duties and purchasing secondhand jewelry without a license.

In 2008, San Luis Obispo police officer Scott Cramer had attempted to assist All That Glitters in getting a secondhand license after officers discovered that the store, in fact, was in possession of stolen property. McBurney, however, failed to attend an application appointment.

Cramer said he “rotated out of the investigation bureau prior to being able to take any enforcement action against All That Glitters,” according to a police report.

In January, during an investigation into “numerous residential burglaries in San Luis Obispo,” San Luis Obispo police receiving information that All That Glitters was purchasing stolen property, according to police reports.

McBurney is scheduled to be in court for a pre-preliminary hearing on July 29.

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It seems like they should actually remove the purchasing restrictions from pawn shops and jewelry stores. That way the owners take all the risk, and at least their is a chance of finding your valued property. Otherwise they’ll pawn the stuff into a market you have no access to, or out of the area where you will never find it.

I don’t think purchasing restrictions would help a great deal. Honest buyers know when they purchase a high value item for literally a penny to the $ value that the item is stolen. If the restrictions didn’t exist, what would they have to lose? They already do take the loss if they get caught with stolen property; as the property is confiscated and they aren’t reimbursed by the true owner. All That Glitters would not have displayed the ring in their store. They would have changed out the stone and taken it out of town at the next opportunity. Fortunately the victim got lucky because we don’t have “those types” of sophisticated criminals in the area and they went to a reputable jeweler first.

So many armchair quarterbacks. You all seem to have a way to do it better: so put your money your your lazy anonymous mouths are!

Go down, and either apply or volunteer and ANY local law enforcement agency, and show them what superstars and experts you are! PLEASE! As it sounds by your obvious experience, knowledge and motivation, crime would be eliminated in this county inside a week!

However, knowing the small group of kooks on here, not one of you will bother to even try, to give a little of your time, but you will still go on being proclaimed “experts” in everything you dont understand.

Ooo. Touched a nerve did we? Well Action,I have known a bunch of LEO in my time.Best friend was a career LASD. I have nothing but respect for good cops and depts.But….The story I related is true and I stand by my statements.

I wanted to be in law inforcement in my younger years,couldn’t make the cut. The volunteering sounds like a good idea to me. Not an expert or superstar,just a guy who would like to see our dept. shine a little brighter.