Connect with us

Best of The Best

Vermont Jewelry Store Raffles Off Recovered Piece of Stolen Jewelry

Retailers communicate to thwart thief.



18K yellow gold medallion
Ali Dumont created this 18K yellow gold medallion, which was stolen, recovered and then raffled to benefit a community group.

ALI DUMONT, MANAGER of Von Bargen’s Jewelry in Burlington, VT, recalls the day in early December that another downtown jeweler called to warn of a thief who had slipped a piece of jewelry into his sleeve and walked right out the door.

He’d been wearing a hat with ear flaps, a surgical mask, hiking boots and a coat, none of which was all that unusual for Vermont. But he had unusually red hands. There was also a picture. “We were all on alert,” Dumont says.

Not long after, on Dec. 13, Dumont saw a man who fit the description enter the store, but he was wearing a different hat and coat and his hands were not immediately visible. “I just said to my team be alert and grab your cellphones,” Dumont says.

The sales staff showed him one piece of jewelry at a time. When Dumont could see that his hands were red, she called the police, but they weren’t able to respond based on a suspicion.

“He said he needed to look at the piece closer to the window, near the front of the store. We said that wasn’t allowed, and he just walked out with it,” she says.

It been an excruciatingly tense 11 minutes. “The store was full of people, and then one person after another kept coming in, and we had to go through the motions while this other thing was in the back of our heads.”


They began locking the door, but the next day they let in a man without hat or surgical mask. A closer look revealed he had red hands. The police did respond this time, but he left when they wouldn’t let him hold anything and was at another store within five minutes. “Because he came back without a hat or mask, our video camera got a great image of him.” Police circulated the photo; not only was he arrested, but more jewelry from other stores was recovered than anyone realized had been stolen.

When the Von Bargen piece was returned to Dumont, who had designed it herself, store management decided to raffle it off to benefit the Howard Center’s Church Street Outreach Team, a local organization for mental health.

“As soon as we got it back, we decided we wanted to create some positivity out of a really terrible day,” she says. The stolen piece is an 18K yellow gold medallion on a long chain, with baguette and white brilliant cut diamonds flush set into it, valued at $4,550. Tickets were sold for $50, and limited to 150 to make it more appealing to people, but when the local TV station picked up the news, those tickets sold out in less than 24 hours, raising $7,500.

“The Church Street Outreach Team has been a great resource to us throughout the years,” Dumont says. “Whenever we’re confronted with individuals suffering from mental health issues, we call them. They work to keep our community safe.”

Local TV stations continued to follow the story. “All contributions by donors, by folks in the community, are really an investment in our community,” Howard Center’s Denise Vignoe told WCAX TV in Burlington. The Church Street Outreach Team provides resources to downtown merchants, but they also check in on Vermonters struggling with homelessness, substance abuse or mental health issues. They provide things like sleeping bags and tents, which are where the proceeds from the raffle will go.

The store had had a security meeting just weeks before with a police officer who worked in security for a bank. Dumont said it was frightening to be in the store twice with a suspected thief, but that the recent training session had helped reinforce important concepts.


“It was a good reminder that there is literally nothing you can do except get through it,” she says.

“We tend to think if we do X, Y and Z, this won’t happen to us or if we do X, Y and Z, we will be able to stop the person. Knowing there is nothing you can do takes away the pressure. Just get the person out of the store, let them take what they want and support each other after.”

Dumont and a group of local jewelers now keep in touch via text and are considering holding an annual jewelry raffle to benefit local organizations. “Giving back to our community has always been a part of our mission and something we feel fortunate to be able to do,” she says.



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular