An Aspen man is charged with felony theft after he allegedly took out an insurance policy on a $40,000 bracelet that didn’t belong to him and then reported it as stolen.
William Evans, 76, who was arrested Thursday and released on a $5,000 bond, on Friday denied the alleged victim’s charge that he has refused to give back the bracelet.
The self-employed jeweler contends it was stolen Feb. 29 from the back seat of his car at either Carl’s Pharmacy or the Aspen post office. Evans said he stopped at both places and City Market before he intended to return the bracelet to its owner. He said he noticed in the grocery store parking lot that the container with the bracelet was missing.
Evans called police that day to report the piece had been stolen. Sgt. Dan Davis of the Aspen Police Department wrote that Evans said the Hammerman bracelet from the 1950s “had been in the family collection for a long time.”
He allegedly told Davis that the bracelet, an 18-carat gold piece with diamonds, was valued at $15,000. Evans, however, “wasn’t concerned because he had the bracelet insured,” Davis’ report says.
In an interview Friday, Evans acknowledged insuring the bracelet and a ring valued at $250,000, which belong to an Aspen woman. He said the woman asked him to take the pieces with him during a recent trip to Los Angeles. Evans said the woman wanted them appraised by the Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses, which he had done.
Upon his return, the woman told him to take the ring to the Kathryn Penn jewelry store, Evans said. The police report says he sold it without the woman’s permission, but the alleged victim said Friday the ring was never sold but only displayed at the store. She has since recovered it.
But as for the bracelet, “I hope to god he has it,” the woman said, adding that Aspen police asked her not to speak with reporters about the case. “I feel very victimized.”
Evans, told that the woman said she has been trying to get the item back for four months, said that “isn’t true at all.”
He was en route to give her the bracelet when it was stolen, he said.
Davis wrote that he returned to the police station and spoke with the woman, whom he described as frantic. On Feb. 29, Evans told her that he had just received the bracelet from a client in California, but added that a “funny thing happened,” Davis wrote.
“Evans told [the woman] the bracelet had been stolen out of his car,” the police report says. The woman “said she thought he was joking at first but then told Evans he was lying and she called the police.”
Davis wrote that he told Evans to bring in the insurance paperwork and that he presented a document from the USAA insurance company. Evans was again asked about the bracelet, and this time he allegedly denied that he had told Davis that it belonged to him.
“‘Why would I tell you that? That’s a lie,’” Evans said, according to Davis’ report. “I told him I knew it was a lie because I talked to the owner. I asked why he would lead me to believe it was his.
“Evans made strange comments to the effect of, ‘I wasn’t drinking’ and ‘I don’t have Alzheimer’s.’”
Evans said Friday that he may have said the bracelet was his because he was upset and “sometimes you don’t think.
“If I wanted to steal it, why wouldn’t I steal both” the ring and the bracelet? he said, adding that Davis “kind of attacked me. He gave me the third degree.”
USAA allegedly told Davis that it had insured the bracelet for $12,000 in Evans’ name.
Evans also commented on another portion of the police report in which Davis wrote about the grocery’s video surveillance footage. Davis wrote that Evans reacted with surprise when told he and his car were on camera: “They have cameras here?”
Davis in mid-March watched the video, which he wrote shows Evans arriving at City Market around 1 p.m. and walking up the stairs to Jour de Fete for lunch. An hour or so later, Evans walked toward City Market, not his car, about two minutes after he called authorities to report the stolen bracelet.
“Based on the video it is clear Evans did not return to his vehicle and discover the bracelet missing as he reported to police,” the report says.
Evans also is charged with making a false report to authorities, a misdemeanor.
The video allegedly shows Evans and a woman speaking inside City Market before Davis arrived. Just before Davis got to the store’s parking lot, “the woman in the video hands an empty plastic grocery bag to Evans,” the report says. “Evans, holding an unidentified small object in his left hand, places his left hand in the bag and wraps the bag around his hand.”
He then allegedly put his hand into his jacket pocket and took it out empty-handed.
Evans denied to police, and in Friday’s interview, that he knows the bracelet’s whereabouts. He said he spoke with the woman about the plastic bag and that she told him she doesn’t think she gave him anything.
“It’s very strange,” he said. “I don’t remember any of that, but at my age one does often forget things.”
Asked why he insured jewelry that doesn’t belong to him, he said he did so given the value of the ring and bracelet and the inexpensive cost of short-term insurance.
“I insured both just because I wanted to have insurance in case someone hit me over the head or something,” Evans said. “I was responsible for them, it was a lot of money.”
He is due in court April 16.