The thief was caught after quick-thinking employees recognized the man and the fake jewel he gave them back
When kids grow up playing cops and robbers they usually don't have to sit around waiting for a bad guy to expel evidence.
But that's what Windsor, Ont., police had to do after a famous jewelry thief, Richard Mackenzie Matthews, allegedly swallowed a $20,000 diamond. The 1.7-carat stone was finally passed by the accused on Saturday, police say. Tests have confirmed that the stone is, in fact, the missing Precision Jewellers gem.
The alleged thief, who is known for robbing other stores elsewhere and called the diamond switcher, initially came in to case out the Precision Jewellers, the Windsor Star reports. He returned and asked for the same employee, Liz Dick, to help him find an engagement ring. She pulled out the diamond and let him hold it.
"I was shaking, I was scared but I tried not to show it," she said to the Windsor Star. "The last thing I wanted him to do was bolt from the store. I wanted to keep him in the store until the police got there because I knew there were warrants out for this guy."
He rolled it around in his hand and scooped his hand around and then handed her back something that looked like the diamond.
Dick has been working in the business for 25 years so she wasn't fooled. She knew immediately what he handed her was a fake. Dick told him it wasn't the same piece and later wrote a note to a coworker: "Call police."
Dick didn't press the issue with Matthews and stalled the visitor by telling him to wait for her boss to come over and offer a better deal. She then whispered instructions to another co-worker and he went and locked the door.
Moments later police came rushing in and when officers strip searched Matthews in the bathroom the man apparently told them "you're not going to find it."
Keeping Matthews in custody, police had been waiting since Thursday for the diamond to come out. The investigators spotted three stones inside the man during an ultrasound. He expelled one cubic zirconia on Friday while the last stone, believed to be a fake, remains inside.
The thief may not be famous to everyone, but he is known by some of the staff at the store after they had a meeting about him a month earlier.
"We received a note from Jewellers Vigilance Canada saying beware of the individual," said Precision co-owner Dan Thomas to the Windsor Star. "He's not allowed on the premises of any jewelry stores across Canada, that's how wanted he was."
"To stay as composed as they were and passing the notes, each one did a different part, I think it was just phenomenal," said Thomas to Metro News of the staff that helped capture Matthews.
Matthews is not the first person this month to allegedly swallow something police want. A hang glider pilot in B.C. was accused of swallowing a memory card from a camera after a woman fell to her death from the hang glider.
Matthews is charged with theft over $5,000 and breach of court conditions.