Canton man returns box containing nearly $50,000 in gold and silver he found outside Hartville Coin & Jewelry.
No harm, no foul, Richard Frost, owner of Hartville Coin & Jewelry, told police of the nearly $50,000 in gold and silver returned Saturday morning.
Frost could not be reached for comment Monday but Uniontown Police Sgt. Michael Batchik said Frost agreed not to press charges if the cigar-box-sized cache was returned with contents intact.
It all began around 9:30 a.m. Thursday when a long-time employee loaded merchandise into his car’s trunk for delivery to the Hartville Post Office. As he drove off, the trunk opened and a box fell to the pavement.
Uniontown officers who later studied the security video noticed that “two or three cars drove right past it and didn’t hesitate.”
“But then, this silver Buick SUV pulls up and you could see it stopped suddenly, sits for a minute, then the passenger door opens and we’re assuming he probably just leaned out and picked up the box and left,” said Batchik, a 13-year veteran of the force.
Luckily, the store had beefed up its security video system since a smash-and-grab burglary in December.
Not only did the video pick up the Rendezvous SUV, it also had a full-face shot of a man who had approached the door of the store before its 10 a.m. opening and was turned away by an employee. But the video didn’t provide the SUV’s license plate number.
Batchik said officers immediately began checking data bases for anyone who owned that vehicle. Fox 8 News picked up the story, the man’s photo and the surveillance tape of the vehicle and broadcast it Friday.
Michael A. Swogger, 36, a Third Street NE Canton resident, didn’t see the broadcast, but one of his buddies did.
“You’re on the news,” the friend told him over the phone. “They say you stole this stuff.”
Swogger, a recent Malone University graduate who collects scrap metal in the winter and works as a landscaper in the summer, said he was stunned.
“My fiancée was with me when we picked it up. She said don’t open it. She thought it was a bomb,” Swogger told The Repository.
But he did open it and in it he found not a bomb but a small fortune in gold Krugerrands, sovereign British gold coins, 75 Canadian silver dollars and more than 25 troy ounces of scrap gold.
That, Batchik said, would have carried a charge of felony theft.
“I had intentions of returning it that morning,” said Swogger, who hopes to put his organizational management degree toward starting his own resale business. “I called the chief (Harold Britt) and told him I was. I was at the police department by 7 a.m. and stood outside for 20 minutes. But we were in Hartville. We had to go to Uniontown. And the officers were very polite. I want to commend the chief for treating me like a human being. I told him I apologized and had intentions on returning it.”
Page 2 of 2 - Swogger, whose mother accompanied him, turned over the box, waiting while officers inventoried its contents.
“It was an agreement (with owner Frost) that if all items were there, nothing was missing, the victim was fine. He refused to pursue any charges, “ said Batchik. “I’m not really surprised. A lot of times, they do try to give people the benefit of the doubt.”
(Repository police reporter Lori Monsewicz’s Saturday story outined the precious metals’ disappearance.)