A Beaufort jewelry shop owner faces five counts of violating the city's precious-metals ordinance after dozens of items stolen from area homes were linked to the store.
David Kinard, 55, owner of the Jeweler's Bench at 603 Carteret St., is accused of failing to report transactions to police, failure to identify sellers, failing to photograph purchased property, failing to retain records and failing to keep items 10 days before melting them down or selling them.
The city's ordinance, enacted in 1981, is required by state law and stipulates anyone who purchases gold, silver or platinum as part of their business to hold a permit and renew it each year. Permit-holders also must report to Beaufort Police a seller's name, address, Social Security number or driver's license number, and a detailed description of the pieces purchased. Items pawned must also be held for 10 days before being sold and be photographed if they're worth more than $50.
Beaufort Police say they discovered Kinard allegedly wasn't following the rules when Devona Brown, 18, of St. Helena Island was arrested Sept. 26 on burglary charges and admitted selling jewelry to the store. Brown was then connected to a string of burglaries in the Shell Point and Mossy Oaks areas, according to Investigator George Erdel. Brown remains in the Beaufort County Detention Center on a $150,000 bond and faces eight counts of felony second-degree burglary.
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Beaufort Police and the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office are still investigating whether other stolen jewelry was sold to the Jeweler's Bench. Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy says at least five other cases have been linked to the store so far.
About $18,000 in jewelry was stolen from Amy Smith's Shell Point home, a theft for which Brown was arrested. Smith said she stopped by the Jeweler's Bench after the burglary and asked them to keep an eye out for specific pieces, including a silver-and-jade bracelet.
She said she didn't hear from the store. Authorities later told her to come claim her property. Erdel said Kinard's records didn't contain clear descriptions of items sold.
Smith said that when she arrived, she found only her anniversary ring and the silver-and-jade bracelet. Her engagement ring, the gold hoop earrings her mother gave her and other pieces had either been melted or sold within six days after Brown sold them to Kinard, according to investigators.
"When I went there, I looked into a bin and there was my anniversary ring," Smith said. "I asked about the bracelet, and David Kinard handed it right to me."
Erdel said Kinard has been following all the rules since the citations were issued. On the day of investigation, though, he admitted he did not separate jewelry he was required to hold for 10 days from ready-to-sell items, Erdel said.
Kinard declined to comment Wednesday, and attempts to reach his lawyer, Robert Ferguson of Lady's Island, were unsuccessful. Kinard is scheduled to face the charges Nov. 8 in a Beaufort municipal court. If convicted, Kinard faces fines and could have his precious-metals license revoked.
Follow reporter Anne Christnovich twitter.com/IPBG_CrimeNOB.