Nearly 7 years later, stolen prop­erty is re­cov­ered

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By TRISH MCGEE pm­cgee@thekent­coun­

CH­ESTER­TOWN — While the re­cov­ery of a lock­box re­ported stolen nearly seven years ago and con­sid­ered to be long gone does not rise to the level of a Christ­mas mir­a­cle, Ellen Stone was over­joyed when she learned that some of her most trea­sured pos­ses­sions had been found.

The 51-year-old Ch­ester­town woman smiled broadly Tues­day morn­ing as she sifted through per­sonal doc­u­ments and other bits and pieces of im­por­tant pa­pers that had de­te­ri­o­rated over time, jew­elry and U.S. and for­eign coins.

“I’m go­ing to get a big pic­ture frame, or maybe a shadow box, to keep all the pieces I can read,” Stone said, hold­ing up what re­mained of a child’s hand­writ­ten card with the printed words, “I Love You Mom.”

Stone’s son Matthew Wahl, now 22, played a key role in iden­ti­fy­ing her as the owner of the lock­box, which Town of Ch­ester­town em- ploy­ees Louis Man­cuso and Lewin Black­iston IV dis­cov­ered Mon­day as they were clear­ing out heavy brush near the Gilchrest Rail Trail.

“It was in a pretty hard-to­get-to spot,” Man­cuso said.

The fire­proof lock­box, which Stone re­mem­bered she had pur­chased at what was then Roses store in the Kent Plaza shop­ping cen­ter, was rusty and banged-up. At first glance, the con­tents looked like noth­ing but rub­bish.

But as luck would have it, the name of Matthew Wahl was leg­i­ble on a child’s im­mu­niza­tion record. In an­other bit of good for­tune, Black­iston knew Wahl and reached out to his for­mer school­mate through so­cial me­dia.

Wahl called his mother, who on Tues­day morn­ing came to the town crew’s head­quar­ters on Mill Street to re­claim her prop­erty.

“They went out of their way to con­tact me. These men de­serve recog­ni­tion,” Stone said.

“I’m glad you got it back,” Man­cuso replied.

Ac­cord­ing to Ch­ester­town Po­lice Lt. John Dol­gos, Stone re­ported the theft of a blue lock­box from her res­i­dence in the 200-block of By­ford Drive in Fe­bru­ary 2011. Dol­gos said Stone iden­ti­fied the con­tents as jew­elry, money, a box of Peo­ples Bank checks and per­sonal doc­u­ments that in­cluded her mar­riage cer­tifi­cate and her and her son’s birth cer­tifi­cates and So­cial Se­cu­rity cards.

Among the prop­erty re­cov­ered were a Peo­ples Bank bag; part of a card

Stone re­ceived on her 17th birth­day, which she spent in the hos­pi­tal; her mother’s wed­ding ring; an Eisen­hower sil­ver dol­lar and sev­eral Kennedy half-dol­lars; pieces of $2 bills that Mar­garet and Bob Mor­ris of the Chris­tian Book­store had put in a birth­day card to Wahl (the Mor­rises, now de­ceased, shut­tered their High Street store in 2014 after 46 years); a small plas­tic bag of wheat pen­nies; and numer­ous for­eign coins.

“That’s cool,” Dol­gos said Tues­day when he was told that the lock­box and its con­tents were re­cov­ered.

He added, “Isn’t that in­ter­est­ing. That’s a long way from By­ford, man, that’s a ways.”

Dol­gos pulled out the open case file on the theft, which noted that sev­eral pos­si­ble sus­pects had been iden­ti­fied. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion had stalled, he said. “They (the sus­pects) prob­a­bly got frus­trated ‘cause they couldn’t get it open and threw it away,” Man­cuso of­fered as a the­ory as to how the lock­box ended up across town.

None of that seemed to mat­ter to Stone on Tues­day.

“Ev­ery­thing’s still here,” she said.


Ellen Stone smiles as she looks over the con­tents of a lock­box that she re­ported stolen more than six years ago. Em­ploy­ees of the Town of Ch­ester­town lo­cated the lock­box Mon­day and re­turned the prop­erty to Stone.


A lock­box re­ported stolen in Fe­bru­ary 2011 was re­cov­ered Mon­day in brush near the Ch­ester­town rail trail. Also re­cov­ered were the con­tents of the lock­box, in­clud­ing jew­elry, coins and per­sonal pa­pers.

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