Technology helps Jefferson Co. deputies catch suspected jewelry thief

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DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Matthew Shumate is accused of stealing $54,00 worth of goods from a Jefferson County home.

"Jewelry, a computer, a weapon - and our officers took the report and several thousand dollars worth of jewelry was taken," said G.W. "Bud" McCoig, Sheriff of Jefferson County.

In fact, just the jewelry stolen last month was worth more than $25,000. Detectives were able to track down some of it at a Knoxville jeweler.

(Detective Sgt. Curtis Owens, Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office) "The victim had a unique piece of jewelry that was stolen and I just typed in the identifcation of the jewelry and found it at one of the jewelry shops in Knoxville, and sure enough, it was theirs," said Detective Sergeant Curtis Owens, with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Owens typed the description into the LeadsOnline database. It's where authorities in eight states track crime. It allows jewelers and pawn shops to post daily descriptions of pawned jewelry, as well as who sold it to them.

Right now, not all jewelry stores and pawn shops participate, but Owens said he'd like to see it become law because it saves the Sheriff's Office a lot of time and resources. He said it's how he found Shumate.

"Before, we'd have to travel to Knoxville, Morristown, Rogersville, Newport - and if we can just pull it up on here, it does really well," said Owens.

Some of the jewelry in this case is still missing, but without the database, he said it could have all been gone forever.

Sheriff McCoig said Shumate's case is headed to the grand jury on January 9th.