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Mystery behind stolen Air Force ring closer to being solved

The Kent County Sheriff's Office remains committed to finding out who an Air Force Pilot School ring belongs to.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When she was going through the police academy, Kent County Sgt. Joy Matthews never imagined she’d one day be using her department’s Facebook page to crack a case. But she’s come to find how important social media has become for law enforcement to reach the communities they serve.

“We utilize social media for a number of things -- to showcase the great work our officers have done or some of the amazing residents that we deal with. We’ve also utilized social media to post surveillance photos of suspects in hopes that someone can ID them or even a missing endangered person that we’re trying to safely locate,” Sgt. Matthews said.

In January, Sgt. Matthews posted on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page about a ring the department was hoping to reunite with its owner. The ring was one of several stolen items that deputies found in a home while serving a search warrant as part of a home break-in investigation.

“Typically when we have property and we can’t locate an owner it goes off to auction or gets destroyed. This is one of those items that we just cannot bring ourselves to do that until we find the owner. Whoever had this ring earned it,” Sgt. Matthews said.

The ring’s markings indicate its owner attended the U.S. Air Force Pilot School at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas in 1949. It also has a blue stone on the front, which could perhaps be a birthstone signifying that its owner was born in September.

Since first posting about the ring, the Sheriff’s Office has received several tips about the ring.

“We have been contacted by several individuals who are directly connected with the Air Force who have been utilizing all their resources to assist in trying to find the owner of the ring,” Sgt. Matthews said.

“We have tracked down one classmate from the 1949 who lives in Virginia so we’re hoping to be able to connect with that individual who might still have his yearbook.”

COVID-19 has slowed down the search for the ring’s owner in some respects, because historians who might usually have access to helpful information at work are now working at home. But despite that, Sgt. Matthews and the rest of the department remain optimistic that they will find the owner.

“The ring sits on my desk every single day. I look at it every single day, and visualize us meeting the owner or meeting the owner’s family and reuniting the ring with them.”

If you have any tips that could help the Sheriff’s Office find the owner of the ring, you can email Sgt. Matthews at joy.matthews@kentcountymi.gov.

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