Seattle police honored gem dealer William Coldren III with the department’s civilian award for heroism because of his willingness to place himself at risk and take part in an investigation to recover a stolen diamond.
He was one of 41 Seattle-area residents honored by the police department on Aug. 16, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
Coldren told the newspaper that he just wanted to help a friend when he agreed to go undercover earlier this year to buy what police believed was a stolen diamond and help detectives crack the theft of $700,000 worth of jewels. Seattle Detective Mike Magan, who requested Coldren’s help and nominated him for the award, told the newspaper that it was one of the largest jewelry heists in the department’s history. He also said he never asked a civilian to help in such an operation.
The jewels were stolen from William Michael Farrell Jewelers on Nov. 21, 2003, in an armed robbery, the newspaper reports.
Magan received a tip that someone was trying to sell what would prove to be a 4.2-ct. diamond. Though he knew where the diamond was being offered for sale, he couldn’t get a search warrant unless someone could verify that it was, indeed, one of the missing stones. Because the jewelry was connected to an armed robbery, he had hoped to use someone armed. But he could not find anyone in local law enforcement with the gem expertise to do the job.
Based on a recommendation from the owners of the robbed jewelry store, Megan asked for Coldren’s help. Coldren immediately agreed. “Friends have to take care of friends,” he told the newspaper.
He met with Magan, studied an appraisal of the missing diamond and then, on March 2, met the fence at the man’s business, a jewelry shop, the newspaper reports. Coldren posed as an appraiser checking the diamond for someone else willing to buy it. The asking price was $25,000, reportedly less than half the diamond’s worth.
When Coldren met robbery detectives at a pre-arranged site, he told Megan that was the stolen diamond, the newspaper reports.
Over the next few days, Coldren reportedly worked with detectives as they crafted the affidavit that would allow them to search the business and recover the diamond and other possibly stolen pieces.
On March 5, Coldren was given $25,000 in cash, the newspaper reports. He met the SWAT officers, and was given an emergency signal device to carry in his pocket and directions to hit the floor and activate it at the first sign of trouble.
He rode in a convoy of SWAT officers, plainclothes detectives and uniformed patrol officers, and was dropped off within a block of the store, the newspaper reports. Outside, hidden from view, were some 60 officers.
Coldren walked in, verified he was buying the correct stone and paid, the newspaper reports. He shook hands with the man, walked out and signaled that he had the diamond by hoisting his bag onto his shoulder. That’s when the SWAT team reportedly ran up and kicked in the door.
Detectives reportedly spent days cataloging the items in the store, ultimately recovering $100,000 worth of stolen jewelry. Since that raid, other tips have come in, Magan reportedly said, leading to additional items.
Brothers Jeffrey and Greg Kincade were arrested after DNA from duct tape reportedly used to hog-tie store employees and a 70-year-old customer during the robbery was matched to Jeffrey Kincade. According to court documents, he confessed and identified his accomplice as his brother, who was arrested a few days later.
The jeweler in this case was not charged, and detectives continue to investigate, the newspaper reports.