Stolen wedding ring recovered after neighbors join the search

A dog sitter went undercover to steal a priceless piece of jewelry and deputies say they found a way into a former client’s home and took a diamond ring.

A private investigator and neighbors of Mildred Donahue actually saw her former dog sitter in her driveway.

The dogsitter was fired in January, so the suspicious behavior led Donahue to call Charlotte County police.

Donahue was lost without her wedding ring, but is all good now that she has it back.​ “I felt so elated that the tears were flowing.”

The ring is Donahue’s constant reminder of life with her late husband. Now she has it back thanks to some good old-fashioned detective work. “Every day I opened my joy case, it was there. Okay, it’s there. I opened it that day, and it was gone.”

Donahue posted a picture of her ring on stolen911.com. People use the website to report and track stolen items. A former police officer turned private investigator Marc Hinch runs the site.

“I suggested that we need to secure the interviews to the neighbors, and maybe do some background work on the suspect. And also get the word out there,” said Hinch.

Donahue said, “Mark’s the one that interviewed my neighbors and I took those interviews down to the police department.”

The interviews with neighbors helped to pinpoint a suspect.

Donahue said her neighbors told her, “oh my god, I saw Karen’s car on Millie’s driveway a couple of Mondays ago. And she went into her house. Recently. She went into the entryway. She was in there about five minutes. I was gonna wave to her on the way out. He said but she ran down the driveway.”

Charlotte County detectives used the information and interviews to identify a suspect; Donahue’s former dog sitter, Karen Byrd. Deputies arrested her and returned the stolen ring.

“He put a picture down on my coffee table. He said is that your ring? I started to cry. I said yes, that’s my ring,” Donahue said.

Karen Byrd is charged with burglary, grand theft of a person over 65 and two other charges.

Investigators recommend putting your valuables in a safe and maybe even getting a security camera.

Reporter:Amanda Porter
Writer:Matthew Seaver
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