Delaware County sheriff’s detectives say they are working with victims to return nearly 3,000 pieces of jewelry and other items that were stolen from at least a dozen senior living facilities in Franklin and Delaware counties — but not until after the criminal case has concluded.
No one has been arrested in connection with the thefts even though the stolen items have been recovered.
Tracy Whited, spokeswoman for the Delaware Count Sheriff’s Office, said Friday that three storage tubs full of the items were recovered from a home in Columbus after deputies executed a search warrant.
Whited said deputies have identified a suspect but have not made an arrest or filed charges because deputies want to build the strongest case possible before they give the case to the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office, which would present it to a grand jury for potential charges.
Deputies do not consider the suspect to be a flight risk, she said.
Whited said that, because defendants are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial, it’s better to build the case before the indictment so the evidence would be ready for a trial.
Deputies declined to name the suspect because the person has not been charged yet.
The county Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case for potential criminal charges, deputies said.
Deputies said they believe the burglaries stretch back to 2013 at the latest and occurred at at least 12 senior living/assisted living facilities in Franklin and Delaware counties, with at least 40 victims.
Whited said detectives are working with the victims, asking them for lists of items they believe were stolen and asking for any pictures of them with the jewelry to prove they own the stolen items. Whited said many of the victims provided detailed lists when they initially filed theft reports.
The items will reportedly be returned after the case has concluded.
In January, the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook a photo of a woman deputies believe was responsible for the thefts and asked community members to call with any information. Deputies said the Facebook post led to a tip about the burglaries that later resulted in a search warrant and finding the recovered items.
Officials said nearly 3,000 pieces of jewelry, credit cards, ID cards and wallets were recovered, with most of the items being jewelry.
The Facebook post came after a series of thefts were reported at The Inn At Olentangy Trail located at 6 Corduroy Road, Delaware, on Jan. 14. Investigators said they believe a woman dressed in attire typically worn by social services or healthcare workers entered at least two rooms at the facility and stole a number of items.
No one was harmed in the thefts because residents were in the dining hall at the time, officials said.
Officials said there is video surveillance of a woman in the facility but The Inn At Olentangy Trail staff and residents could not identify her.
The crimes were reported to deputies the following morning. Detectives said they began an investigation immediately.
The other Delaware County facility is Abbington of Powell located at 3971 Bradford Road, Powell.
Local officials said Upper Arlington police, Dublin police, Westerville police and Columbus police are also investigating the case.