By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A Havre man has been charged with stealing money and a valuable family heirloom from the Havre business where he worked.
Erik W. Nelson, 21, was charged Thursday in state District Court in Havre with one count each of felony theft and misdemeanor theft. He is accused of stealing a $12,000 diamond wedding ring and $800 in cash from the fire safe at Bob's Cycle World, where he was employed as a part-time mechanic.
An arrest warrant was issued last week for Nelson, who was booked into the Hill County Detention Center and released on his own recognizance.
According to the charging document, Nelson stole the ring and cash from the safe after being told he was about to be laid off.
On Oct. 24, Nelson tried to sell the ring to a pawn shop near Bob's Cycle World, the document said. The pawn shop owner was suspicious and refused to accept the ring, and then called police. He gave officers the license plate number of the vehicle Nelson was driving, which was registered to Nelson's girlfriend, according to the charging document.
Police took no further action until they got a call from a person who reported the theft of a ring that matched the description given police by the pawn shop owner.
Bob Williams, the owner of Bob's Cycle World, called police Nov. 10 and said cash and a diamond wedding ring had been stolen from the business' safe and that he suspected Nelson, according to the charging document. Williams told police the money belonged to him, and that the ring belonged to one of his employees, Mike Polaske.
The ring - Polaske's wife's wedding band - includes a centerpiece diamond that was given to Polaske by his father. The stone was part of a matching set that Polaske's parents purchased decades ago, Polaske said.
His wife wears the ring on special occasions. On Nov. 10, Polaske and his wife went to the shop to get the ring and discovered it missing, he said.
"We had an occasion where my wife needed to wear it, and came down to grab it," Polaske said. "I grabbed the container, handed it to her, and it was gone. I was in shock and wondering if it had gotten moved by someone."
Nelson turned the ring over to police, according to the charging document.
The diamond ring was held as evidence until Friday, when it was returned to the Polaskes, Havre police Lt. George Tate said this morning.
"He was pretty happy to have it back," Tate said.
Nelson is a member of the Montana Army National Guard. The charges against Nelson may affect his status with the military, Tate said.
Maj. Scott Smith, public affairs officer for the Montana National Guard, said Nelson will face consequences if he is convicted.