The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 12, 2013

Thief grabs memories

94-year-old vet returns from Fla. to discover mementoes stolen

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON —  Richard Reuschling suspects a female had a hand in the theft of jewelry and electronics from his home.

A male thief, he said, would not take the time to leave things so carefully arranged in the drawers that, at first, it appeared as if nothing was missing.

Indeed, Reuschling, 94, walked by the spot where the television was when he left for Florida last fall and didn’t notice it was missing.

However, for the past week Reuschling has made a trip to the village’s police department almost daily to report pilfered items: his jewelry, the television and a DVD player.

“Gradually, we keep coming up with things that are missing,” Reuschling said. “They even took a $100 bill that they gave me when I retired. It had a lot of names on it of people I worked with.”

Reuschling estimates the total loss at around $2,000, excepting two items that were priceless to the World War II veteran: a ring made from his paratrooper wings and a silver cigarette box.

The box was given to Reuschling by a Royal Air Force pilot before flying a mission. The box had the letters “RAF” engraved on the top and was prized by Reuschling.

His wife had sent his paratrooper lapel pin to a company and had it made into the ring. Like the box, it simply can’t be replaced.

“It would be nice if they would drop off that stuff at the house. I’d be very happy. The rest of it does not matter. But I’d like get those things back, I’d be very happy. There are a lot of memories there,” Reuschling said.

A brother periodically checked on Reuschling’s house in his absence from November to April, but the thieves were so neat in their work it went unnoticed. Even the entry method was very low impact.

“They locked the place up when they left,” Reuschling said.

Drawers were carefully searched and items neatly re-arranged after the valuables were removed. Oddly, the thieves left behind rolls of coins, which have since gone to the bank. He said the thieves even took the key to his bank safety deposit box, but without the name of the bank on the key, “they’d have a heck of a time finding out what bank it was in,” he said.

The Jefferson Village Police Department is investigating the crime. Reuschling hopes that persons who may have purchased the war mementos, seen them or have information about the theft provide leads to the department.

Amid the sorrow of the loss, Reuschling is thankful the thieves treated his home with regard.

Reuschling plans to replace the electronics and has a word of advice for any thief thinking of doing a repeat visit when he leaves for Florida in the fall.

“The only thing that will be here will that new TV. And I’ll leave a sign on it, ‘Please be careful when you unhook it because it is brand new,’” he said.