More homeowners have contacted the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office claiming that jewelry, watches and other items were stolen from their homes that were for sale -- thefts that had previously gone unreported, some as old as 2009.
Investigators still are trying to track down jewelry reported stolen between April and late June from several homes for sale on Hilton Head Island but have recently received new reports of items taken several years ago, Sgt. Robin McIntosh, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said.
"We're looking possibly as far back as 2009," McIntosh said. "... These were all homes that were being shown by Realtors during the time frame that items are believed to have gone missing."
McIntosh said the items included coins, watches and other smaller pieces of jewelry whose disappearance was not obvious to the homeowners at the time, which is why they were not reported.
Several pieces of the jewelry reported stolen this year from homes for sale on Wedgefield Drive, Colonial Drive, Knollwood Drive, Oyster Bay Place and Sea Robin Court on Hilton Head have been recovered, including items reportedly sold to a Savannah pawn shop by former island real estate agent Darrell Finch.
He posted $2,130 bond on the local charge Friday and was transferred to the Chatham County Detention Center to face the Georgia charges, according to jail officials.
Beaufort County deputies say they also found a pendant inside Finch's vehicle last week that had been reported stolen from the home on Oyster Bay Place, prompting local authorities to charge him with one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen goods.
It was unknown Tuesday whether Finch has since been released or remains jailed in Savannah.
Finch applied to become licensed to sell real estate in South Carolina in July 2009 while working for a real estate firm on Hilton Head.
McIntosh said she thinks the media reports about the recent thefts have "probably prompted people's memories (and) suspicion, and now we're working to follow the trail, which, after several years, is obviously proving difficult."
Items stolen years ago could have been sold as scrap precious metal and possibly melted down, making them unidentifiable, McIntosh added.
Authorities continue to investigate possible ties between all of the thefts and Finch, whose license was deactivated June 21.
While a licensed real estate agent in South Carolina, Finch was placed on probation in Florida and Georgia for crimes he had committed in those states between April 2008 and August 2010, according to court and police records.
His S.C. license was inactivated in August 2010 at the request of his employer and reinstated a month later after he went to work for another real estate firm on Hilton Head.