News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007

$30,000 in items taken in Somerville burglary; $3,000 reward offered

By Seth Burkett · 340-2355

SOMERVILLE — On Monday, Jimmy and Sherry Ringgold were still counting their losses from a burglary last week.

The report of stolen items was six pages long by Monday and still growing as the Ringgolds discovered more items missing, said Sgt. John Bili of the Morgan County Sheriff's Department.

The couple returned home from work Thursday afternoon to find all the drawers open in their home on Chapman Drive.

The thieves who seized the opportunity of the couple being out of the house had taken their time looting the place, Bili said.

"He (Ringgold) just gave a quick estimate, and it's probably going to eclipse that. It was upwards of 25 or 30 grand stolen," Bili said.

But the loss isn't just a monetary one — the Ringgolds say most of the items taken were small items with sentimental value.

"They took things that kind of got me personally," said Jimmy Ringgold, who is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever is responsible.

Among the items taken were medallions and coins Ringgold received while working for NASA.

"Some of the watches that were taken were given to me as ceremonial-type things that even had my name on them," the 52-year-old said.

Among other firearms, thieves took a a five-shot pearl-handled pistol that belonged to an ancestor, Samuel B. Ringgold, the first American officer killed in the Mexican-American War, for whom Ringgold, Ga., is named.

Also, Jimmy Ringgold's guitar, as well as a three-quarter-size cello dating to the early 1900s and a silver flute and a clarinet, both belonging to the couple's daughter, were taken.

Sherry Ringgold, 49, said her jewelry had been raided and thousands in pearls, rings and pendants, many given by her husband on wedding anniversaries, were stolen. The thieves even picked through her costume jewelry, discovering a topaz bracelet worth about $400 among the plastic baubles.

"They knew exactly what to get that would probably bring some street value. They pretty much looked through everything, and they took stuff that was easy to transport," Sherry Ringgold said.

"To us, there's not really a monetary value. ... You don't think of anything being of any value at all until you start thinking, 'Well, what did I pay for it in 1976? If I was to sell it, what was it worth?' It's made me pretty much physically sick," she said.

"You get paranoid. We're definitely scared. We think what if they come back to get what they didn't get the first time? We're common folks, and we've worked for everything we've ever had," said Sherry Ringgold, who is a counselor and social worker for special needs children.

Ringgold said she spent part of the day Monday pricing burglar alarms and part of the day completing another page listing stolen items, including two cameras and, more importantly, undeveloped photographs from family gatherings.

One of the most tragic losses, the Ringgolds said, was an old camcorder with three videocassettes in the case. Those cassettes, they said, contain about 12 hours of interviews with veterans at a Memorial Day celebration hosted by Phillip Gurley on Peck Hollow Road.

"I could not bring myself to tell Mr. Gurley they stole the film too. And the worst is that they probably threw that away," said Sherry Ringgold.

"Before we could get them on CD, those tapes are gone, and Sherry's just devastated by this," said her husband. "They can have the dad-burned camera! Just give me those tapes back!"

Jimmy Ringgold said he doesn't know whether the thieves will try to pawn or sell their belongings for cash, but that he hopes the unusual nature of some of the items will throw up red flags.

"We need some help from some of the community that might have seen these items and could help us get this stuff back. I'd like to get this stuff back or find out who it is so we can stop them before they hurt somebody else like this," Ringgold said.

Got a tip?

Call Sgt. John Bili of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department at 560-6198.

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