Nearly 7 years later, stolen property is recovered
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.