Mount Pleasant police say a 35-year-old man pawned almost $30,000 in stolen jewelry for people who promised to let him keep some of the money because he’d been “struggling financially.”
Joseph Spears, of Racine, was supposed to have his initial appearance in Racine County Circuit Court Thursday to face a single felony count of receiving stolen merchandise, party to a crime, but it was postponed until May 26 to give him time to obtain an attorney. If he is convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and/or up to $50,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint, on April 13, Spears pawned jewelry with an estimated worth of $28,350 and received a check for $1,234. Officers were alerted to the theft by an older couple who called police on April 10 to report a number of stolen items after they woke up to find a man in their bedroom. The man chased the thief out of the home.
Officers say thieves gained access to the home through a sliding glass door in the basement. The couple reported a number of items of jewelry, the woman’s purse and its contents were taken. Police found a TV in the basement and a bracelet on the stairs.
Records from the pawn shop, witnesses and store surveillance video helped police identify Spears and two women when they parked outside the shop while investigators were on scene, the complaint reads. Officers went back inside and questioned a woman who was trying to pawn a $14,000 ring. Investigators went outside and questioned another woman in the car who handed over a silk bag containing several more pieces of jewelry.
Police say when they questioned Spears, he said he got the jewelry from his girlfriend’s brother who is also the boyfriend of the woman with the silk bag. Spears said that man sometimes calls him to pawn items because they know that Spears is “struggling financially.”
Online jail records do not indicate that Spears is in the Racine County Jail. His initial appearance was rescheduled for May 26.