Couple says Naples jeweler closed business in possession of special watch

A man took his expensive watch into a trusted jewelry store for repairs and never saw it again. That store is now closed. The customer says the watch is irreplaceable, and they are out thousands of dollars.

William Holcomb says he brought his special wedding anniversary gift— a Rolex watch — in for a repair last year.

Holcomb and his wife trusted a Paul Schmitt Jewelers to fix it in downtown Naples, a jewelry store that had been in the city for more than 40 years.

When we visited the shop Thursday, for-leasing signs were on the windows.

“My wife and I bought one for each other, and it’s kind of was our little treat together after so many years of being married,” Holcomb explained.

It’s a gift symbolizing the time the Naples couple has shared together. It marked their 15th wedding anniversary. Michele Longel still wears her watch, but Holcomb’s is gone.

“It was a big deal. It’s our anniversary. It’s a gift … 15 years,” Longel said.

The owner of the jewelry store who used to operate on 5th Avenue closed up with Holcomb’s watch inside.

”I dropped off. It was a year ago … just get it cleaned or get it fixed,” Holcomb said. “They were going to call, and they hadn’t called, and we have been away most of the summer.”

Finally, the couple returned to Naples and to the shop.

“They were gone,” Longel said.

Boarded up windows replaced what used to be Paul Schmitt Jewelers.

“Not calls to say, ‘Hey, come get your jewelry. I’m going to be closing’ — nothing,” Longel said.

“I didn’t know what else to do,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb filed a report with Naples Police Department.

”They attempted to find him or their family,” Holcomb said.

We did too. We spoke to neighboring businesses, dialed relatives and went to the house where the owner used to live.

“It’s my own fault,” Holcomb said. “I guess I should have followed through and stayed up on it, but I never thought they were going to close shop and leave town.”

The police department considers this a civil case rather than a criminal case. A few other people have also filed complaints with NPD.

“It’s something that we did together, and we thought we’d have forever, and now we’re not going to,” Longel said.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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