Stolen wedding rings, military medals recovered by Calgary police

Brian Cole looks over some of the treasured keepsakes that were stolen during a break and enter on Dec. 14, and returned by Calgary police. Global News

Some memories a Calgary homeowner thought were lost following a break and enter last week have been recovered by police.

“(The) best way to describe it is a Christmas miracle,” Brian Cole told Global News on Thursday. “Getting some of my stuff back – haven’t gotten it all back yet – but I have faith in our men and women in blue.

“Lots of emotions. Lots of tears of joy.”

On Dec. 14, a woman broke into a Mayland Heights home in the 800 block of 19 Street N.E. via a basement window. Police said the woman stole jewelry belonging to the homeowner’s deceased wife and military medals and memorabilia which belonged to the owner’s deceased father. More than $ 40,000 worth of photography equipment was also stolen.

Police said the woman drove away in a stolen vehicle that was parked in the alley.

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The next day, Brian Cole shared the story of a break-in at his home with Global News.

Cole said the intruder also stole Christmas presents and food from his pantry, fridge and freezer, including a holiday ham.

He handed over CCTV footage to police and said investigators were able to identify an individual “casing” his home.

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Calgary Police Service investigators identified a suspect and learned the person was staying at a hotel in the 2700 block of Sunridge Way N.E.

Click to play video: 'Wedding rings, military medals, camera equipment stolen from Calgary widower’s home'
Wedding rings, military medals, camera equipment stolen from Calgary widower’s home

Early on Thursday, officers executed a search warrant inside the hotel room and located a “significant amount” of the stolen property, including the wedding rings and military medals. Two people were arrested.

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Jacqueline Chaban, 39, was charged with break and enter and possession of a controlled substance. Chaban was also wanted on seven outstanding warrants.

Javier Caceres, 54, was charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of stolen property over $5,000 and possession of a controlled substance.

Cole said most of the items have been returned, but he’s still missing military memorabilia like dog tags and challenge coins associated with the PPCLI. He’s also missing some of his photography equipment like hard drives of previous work.

“I have my wife’s wedding ring in my possession. My ring will be returned to me shortly. It’s currently with the Calgary police until they get around to finishing up their investigation,” Cole said Thursday. “It’s the rings and my dad’s dog tags were the most important thing to me right now.”

Cole said the timing of the break and enter – during the holiday season and near the five-year anniversary of his wife’s death – was “devastating.”

Widower Brian Cole’s wedding rings were among the items stolen from a locked safe in his Mayland Heights, Calgary home Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Supplied: Brian Cole

But he said the outpouring of support from friends, neighbours and strangers was overwhelming.

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A/Staff Sgt. Shelby Stewart credited CPS investigators with “fantastic work” identifying and locating the suspects while they still had the stolen property.

“Break and enters continue to be a top concern for citizens and, sadly, many citizens can relate to the feeling of losing something with so much sentimental value,” Stewart said in a statement.

“In this case, we were very glad to be able to reunite the victim with his property, just in time for the holidays.”

–with files from Sarah Offin, Global News

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