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Police dive for thieves’ ditched loot

Columbus police divers have recovered about $22,000 worth of stolen jewelry and coins that were tossed into water, as investigators continue searching for property taken by a multimillion-dollar burglary ring.

An estimated $800,000 worth of items remain missing from a break-in at 4252 Shire Cove Rd. in December 2007, said Hilliard police Sgt. Mike Redmond.

The priciest item recovered by divers was a Rolex watch worth $16,000.

“It was still ticking,” Redmond said. “I guess they really are waterproof.”

Seven members of the ring, which burglarized more than 25 homes in Hilliard and on the Northwest Side, have been convicted; two others await trial.

As part of plea bargains in the case, some of the burglars agreed to tell investigators where stolen goods were dumped. “At some point, they panicked and threw stuff in different waterways,” Redmond said.

A team of eight Columbus police divers spent about 15 hours Wednesday and Thursday searching bodies of water in Franklin County, said Columbus Sgt. Jeff Sacksteder. The waters were so murky that investigators used metal detectors, he said.

Most of the items were found in one location, but investigators aren’t revealing where they searched. “We don’t want people to start scavenger hunts of their own,” Redmond said.

He thinks the recovered items came from the Shire Cove Road house, where the burglars stole a 1,500-pound safe that contained coins, jewelry and gold bars valued at more than $2 million.

The attorney for the leader of the ring turned over more than $1 million worth of the stolen items to Franklin County prosecutors last month.

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