A $20,000 diamond ring found in a tanning salon in St. Charles, Mo., appears to be at the center of a legal dispute over "finders keepers." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch attempts to explain murky statutes revolving around found property versus stealing. After Bonnie Land found the expensive ring and agreed to return it weeks later, she was arrested. She subsequently sued the ring's owner for $66,500 alleging breach of contract as Land wasn't given the posted $3,000 reward money.
How did Land find the valuable ring in the first place?
The 34-year-old St. Charles woman was at a local tanning salon when she noticed the two-carat yellow diamond ring on a hook used to hang up clothes. Melissa Boucek owns the ring and accidentally left it in the spray-on tanning room before Land used the same room. That was on May 9.
Why was Land arrested?
The case turned bizarre in early June. Boucek had called the salon and customers were contacted soon after the ring was lost. Land wasn't notified because she moved and forgot about the ring until a trip to Minnesota, according to the Post-Dispatch. The finder alleges she always intended to return the ring. A sign posted in the tanning salon claimed a $3,000 reward was offered for the missing ring. The finder came into a jewelry store to return the ring only to be surrounded by police. That was June 8. Six weeks later, Land was charged with stealing.
Why is Land suing the ring's rightful owner?
The Daily Mail has a black and white picture of the huge ring with a yellow diamond surrounded by 27 white diamonds. There is also a picture of the defendant in the case. The ring is valued at $20,000, Land is suing Boucek for $66,500. The higher amount includes breach of contract, fraud and damages. Attorney's fees would also be included in the amount.
What have prosecutors said about the case?
The Post-Dispatch quoted St. Charles Police Department Detective Mike Myers who found it hard to believe that Land couldn't remember to turn in the ring at the front desk of the tanning salon. In filing charges, prosecutors believed there were several things the plaintiff could have done to try to return the ring to its rightful owner. Instead, authorities find it suspicious Land waited until she saw reward money posted.
What are the legalities of the ring's "finder's keepers" limbo?
Missouri law states anyone who finds property valued at $10 or more must report finding such goods to a judge within 10 days. Part of the civil lawsuit is because Land was denied a rental application to an apartment because of criminal charges. Boucek filed a stolen property report instead of a lost item. Criminal charges are on hold because the actual ring was found. The statute of limitations to prosecute the case is three years. A search of Missouri Case Net records reveals the civil action was filed Dec. 14. Land's attorney is Chase Matthews. The defendant has no attorney of record.
William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.
- Crime & Justice