Police search for suspect in $400,000 jewelry theft
Police are seeking help in locating a Santa Fe man suspected of stealing $400,000 in Native American jewelry from a parked car last month.
According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court late last week, police seek Christopher Taylor, 47, in connection with the theft of hundreds of pieces of hand-crafted, Southwest-style jewelry belonging to artists Alvin Monte and Denna Platero.
Lt. Chris McCord of the Santa Fe Police Department said that as of Monday, officers had yet to locate Taylor.
According to the affidavit, Taylor resides next door to the artists, one of whom left the jewelry — wrapped in a black, rolling-style suitcase with a collapsible handle — in the trunk of a gray Ford Focus parked outside her house.
Platero told police she had arrived home late and tired around 9:30 p.m., on the night of Sept. 20. Because she had an early show the next day, “she left the jewelry locked in the trunk of her car,” the affidavit said.
The next morning, while walking her dog around 5:30 a.m., Platero noticed the trunk of her car was open and that the jewelry was missing. The report says Platero and Monte, who live together, had “almost their entire collection of about 350 pieces of jewelry” in the bag.
The affidavit paints a complicated portrait of several efforts to retrieve the stolen goods, ranging from the hiring of a private investigator to visiting local pawn shops, jewelry and gold-buying stores, to see if the jewelry — which had the artists’ personal identification stamp — could be traced.
At least two of those retailers, Santa Fe Exchange on Cordova Road and Premier Metals on Cerrillos Road, told police a woman had come into their stores to sell, or attempt to sell, jewelry. An unidentified male with a child in tow also tried to sell some of the artists’ pieces to Legacy Pawn, but left before a clerk could get the license plate number of the man’s car.
One woman who sold two of the artists’ bracelets to Santa Fe Exchange, identified in the affidavit as Marie Garcia, told police she bought some of the pieces from a man known to her only as “Chris” at the Giant gas station on St. Francis Drive one Saturday night in late September. She showed police officers where the man lived, and it was next door to the victims’ house.
The artists hired a private investigator, identified in the court documents as Glenn Holmes, to retrieve the stolen jewelry. The affidavit says a police officer spoke with Holmes at Legacy Pawn and that Holmes was exchanging texts with Taylor in an effort to get the stolen goods back.
Holmes did not return a phone call or email seeking comment Monday. Efforts to reach Platero and Monte were unsuccessful.
An online search of court records shows Taylor was supposed to make his first appearance last week in an August court complaint charging him with possession of a controlled substance. Last year he made a plea deal on a similar charge of possession and concealing his identity, which led prosecutors to drop the charges, according to online court records.
McCord said anyone with information on Taylor’s whereabouts should call the police department’s dispatch center at 505-428-3710.