Lea Lane

Lea Lane
Florida, USA
August 26
author, Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks, available at Amazon.com and on Kindle
“I’ve discovered the secret of life,” Kay Thompson, the eccentric entertainer and “Eloise” author, once said. “A lot of hard work, a lot of sense of humor, a lot of joy and a lot of tra-la-la!” And that's been my life: As a travel writer for over 30 years, I've been around the block (more like around the world), and I write true stories about interesting people and places. (Check out my travel site, Travels With Lea.) I've lived an unconventional life in conventional trappings. Been a corporate VP, worked with foster kids, acted in an Indie ("Nurse 1"), was on Jeopardy!. I've been managing editor of a travel publication, written for the Times, and authored books. OS is my home, but I also blog on The Huffington Post, and I've contributed (mostly anonymously) to everything from encyclopedias to guidebooks. Married young, divorced late; married late, widowed early, I dated lots in-between -- and survived a scary illness. After being happily, peacefully solo for many years, I'm now happily married again. I founded and still edit www.sololady.com, a lifestyle Website for single women. I'm truly grateful for each precious day, each well-earned wrinkle, my family, my cat. Truth, laughter, friendship, late love. And this blog -- on this wonderful site!

Lea Lane's Links

FEBRUARY 29, 2012 9:05AM

To Catch a Thief

Rate: 38 Flag

Last week a cherished bracelet was stolen right off my wrist in an unusual way, and I'll tell you about it in a minute. But let me put the theft in the context of past losses of all kinds. 

I have a history of losing jewelry: necklaces unlatching, pins unpinning, earrings gone missing – I think I have more single earrings than pairs. And of course, the losses always seem to be when I’m wearing the real thing, not the flea market finds.

Some of the losses have been especially puzzling. When my son was a toddler he would sit in my lap and play with my engagement ring, wiggling it back and forth. One November evening I bolted out to grab my dog, who had escaped from the house. 

I zigged and zagged around the property and finally picked up the dog. But a couple of minutes later inside my house, I looked down and noticed the setting where a diamond had been, prongs staring back at me like an empty eye socket.

I ran outside in the dark and saw a sprawling lawn covered in autumn leaves. Somewhere under that leafy expanse was a pear-shaped gem. I checked for hours with a flashlight and for days later, and for all I know the diamond is still there, under silent layers of dirt, waiting to be discovered.

I’ve also had jewelry stolen in strange and violent ways, with awful timing. In the late 80s I was in Barcelona standing outside of the Picasso museum at noon with a whole bunch of good jewelry in my purse. I usually traveled with fake stuff but I wanted to please the man I was dating. We had no safe in the room and I figured I'd keep the jewelry with me. Dumb? Yes!

A thief grabbed my purse, and although my partner wrestled him to the ground and I held onto the purse, the strap broke and the thief tossed the purse to his accomplice on a scooter.

And then there was the "smash and grab" heist in Miami under an I-95 overpass one night in the 1990s. My dear aunt had just gifted me with a packet of her finest jewelry. Horrible timing. I was alone, and stopped at a light with a car ahead of me. Suddenly an iron pipe smashed the passenger side window and the thief grabbed my purse, with the packet within. I drove to my friend's house in shock, with glass all over the car seat. The police said I was lucky I wasn't hit in the head.

Last week's theft was not violent but was definitely puzzling and perhaps my weirdest jewelry loss of all. I was with my granddaughters and son, visiting a nature sanctuary called Jungle Island, on the MacArthur Causeway between Miami and Miami Beach.

The excursion was lots of fun for the girls, and I surely didn't expect an expert thief to swiftly remove the heirloom bracelet my husband had given me without my realizing it.

The saving grace is that soon after the theft, a woman tapped me on the shoulder, “Is this yours? I saw it glittering on the ground near where you were standing. It's broken.” Luckily for me the thief had dropped it! 

Based on where I was standing, I immediately surmised that there were several possible suspects, including these:



get-attachment-1 This suspect looks like he could have snapped it up. 



 get-attachment-4This suspect eats anything, maybe even bracelets. 


When we got home and looked at the photos of our excursion we realized that my son had taken a photo of the theft as it was occurring!  I had proof:




get-attachment-3 The thief at work! I was so happy to have him on my hand I did not notice then (nor did my son the photographer), that the sneaky bird was speedily removing my bracelet.


Because I had retrieved the broken bracelet I didn’t feel the need to press charges and report the big blue parrot to authorities. I'll bet it’s not his first heist, and be warned if you’re ever at Jungle Island in Miami -- I doubt it will be his last. 






Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Anyone else lose jewelry in weird ways?
Ha! I felt just horrible for your losses until the last instance. That's crazy and I am glad you got the heirloom back from an honest lady. I have only lost jewelry stupidly--leaving it on public washroom sinks, in hotels, and such. I believe if there is a heaven I will find all the missing earrings that belong to the singletons I can't bring myself to throw away.
Great. Lea Lane's Blog.

I followed Friendly Michelle.

I lost my High School Ring.
How to Catch A Thief, ay . . .
Ask a nude woman to
do a Yom Kippur visit
to nab the editor asap
I lost a real diamond.
It was on a 'Tote' Pin.
Tote was for a old job.

The American Totalisator Co.
The small diamond fell out, sad.
What a cute blue parrot. Polly?
I think a blur bird can be named:
Kerry L.
Lost soul
Lost editor
He's a gem?
Lea ~ I echo Miguela and Jane's thoughts about the earlier losses and that's quite a story about the recent loss and recovery, which included the very honest woman who found your bracelet on the ground. It sounds like the parrot that did the deed might need home (zoo) confinement until it learns the rule of law around Jungle Island! Very cute granddaughters you have, by the way!
Like most of life there's both dark and light aspects. Nice to end on the light side.
Great story Lea. These days we're accustomed to seeing the closed circuit vids of crimes in process but the parrots must have thought they were protected in a nature sanctuary. Good catch.
wonderful post!

Nope, not me - no jewelry to speak of, tho I occasionally misplace my *sacred* ritual pentacle...
P.S. - Adorable grandkids.
This is a darling story.
My penchant for losing stuff has resulted in my never having worn a wedding ring. Honest.
Funny in a kind of sad way, Lea. At least the thefts are unintentional - in a way. I often lose an earring because my right ear has a bad habit of rejecting earrings even for pierced ears and pushes them out on its own. Then the ones that get into the dryer through forgetfulness in a pocket. . . Better not get started. :o)
What a story. And I am not fond of large birds but I liked this tale.
Loved this, and love imagining you as the kind of woman who just looks like there's valuable jewelry in her purse.
Funny! I am the life companion of an evil bird who delights in such actions. Glitter and sparkle are a big attraction. So is busy work. Your bracelet offered both.

Have only lost one piece, of no value monetarily, a copper ring that slid off my soapy finger and down the drain in an institutional sink with no pipe elbows. I still miss it!
Horrifying to picture you in the car being smashed w/the iron pipe! But I read on, to the happy and delightful ending. I just lost an earring down the bathroom sink, but found it in the trap. Don't wear much of value anymore. "Pairing" down, as you allude to, seems to be my way of letting go, in a gentler way than robbery.
Yes, downsizing has made sense for a long time, in most ways.
What a humorous twist!
I lost a pair of diamond and pearl earrings (they match a ring) when Lance died. I feel sure they are somewhere in my house, but in the fog of the day I have no idea where they can be. I figure some day I will find them in a very odd place.

Glad you found the bracelet.
I can imagine that engagement ring diamond under the ground. Wonder if anyone will ever find it, and if they do, will they realize it's real!
I have been mugged and shot at but a parrot?
This whole story should be on Animal Planet..:)
What an emotional roller coaster this piece is, Lea, from horror to humor and everything in between.
Lea, what a GREAT story. I'm sorry you lost all the other jewelry but I loved the picture and the end story. We have a family "necklace" that has been lost numerous times by my grandmother and mother (due to their dementia). My husband found it at my grandmother's once in the silverware drawer. Now I have it in the lock box at the bank.
A possible fashion choice: with all your single earrings, and that parrot, you could buy a black velvet eye patch and start a trend - Pirate Chic.

Great post- made me smile which isn't an easy thing to do,
I'm sorry you have lost all of that precious jewelry, but the last one was a hoot. I think you should visit with a Psychic to try to figure this out. Maybe you don't think you deserve it. R
Interesting theory, Christine, but I do deserve it.:)
I just think most times I've been pretty careless/clueless.
Charming and surprising. All the serious losses you describe make the ending all the more fun.
Some of your jewelry loss stories are scary. I'm glad you lived to tell the tale. Who knew parrots were so acquisitive!?
I have a lot of mis-matched orphaned earrings, yes. Just last weekend, I lost one from a favorite pair. Not valuable, but pretty, and they went with a lot of garments I wear in regular rotation. No sign of it showing up in my car, at work or at home. Which makes me cross and sad.

But I've never had a parrot try to swipe anything. =o)

Parrots and macaws have those strong beaks and talons, yet they look so pretty. Beware!
And I think those of us with singleton earrings should start a trend of wearing mismatched ones. What do you think?
That is fantastic that you have a photo of the "thief" in the act.
You are the unluckiest jewelry heist victim ever! Cute story, but so sorry for your losses!
I've only a few sentimental pieces of jewelry left. Some were stolen by kleptos and other pieces were lost due to my own naivety.

I'm thinking about having a jeweler resize or transform my emerald birthstone ring into a pendant or charm bracelet.

I lost my engagement ring when skinny-dipping with my boyfriend.
Belinda, the skinny-dipping loss sounds like a real surprise. Sorry. Maybe too much (wave) action?
It takes a thief but I love a great sleuth. Nice tale too!
I am so sorry about the jewellery losses. Nice to hear one of them has a happy ending.
Wow, thief caught in the act! Hope you shared photo with Jungle Island, hilarious but maybe not the first time? Re losing jewelry in weird ways, I can't top this, but we did have a cat with billy goat tastes who once ate hubby's wedding ring... and yes, we waited patiently to retrieve it next day from a deposit in the litter box.

Fortunately no harm to the cat but great excuse for a man who dislikes wearing even a watch not to wear the ring ever again! It lives in my jewelry box, clean but untouched (and "safe from the cat").
I was thinking "what if" the parrot had swallowed it. Lucked out this time.
I've heard of shaggy dog stories -- but a thievin' bird story -- well, that's a first.
Ha! Great story, Lea. I'm glad it wasn't a hardened criminal, but a feathered one. I wonder if parrots are attracted to shiny items like magpies?

Your stories remind me of why I'm always glad not to have any valuable jewelry. I would get too upset if I lost it. Heck, I've gotten upset losing not really valuable jewelry just because I love it.
Nelle! You're back! Hope things have been productive.

Does this mean you'll be doing Mad Men around here???
Great lead, and just the perfect amount of drama! Glad there was no sustained loss in this case . . .
Ah, Lea. I'm happy at least your bracelet story had a happy ending. I'm still reeling from the loss of my three diamond rings, including my engagement ring and wedding band, when my car was broken into Thanksgiving night at a hotel parking lot in Indianapolis. Prior to that, my most surprising loss had been a watch being taken from my hand in a casino in Las Vegas. I somehow lost an emerald and diamond earring on a snowy Michigan Avenue in Chicago one February, and was certain it wasn't searchable (who was going to go digging in a snowy gutter for blocks looking?), and had the misfortune to leave some earrings on a nightstand in a hotel room in Mexico City one night when I went to dinner. When it comes to the birds, I know they go for the bling. I did lose a heart-shaped ruby off a pendant last fall and think it will not be found until someone eventually does an autopsy on the cute little feathered creature that lives in my house.

Thanks for penning this, a fun read.
What a set up for a funny story. And what cute grandkids.
Ha! I was nodding along in agreement until the thief was the big blue parrot. That is an unusual heist! Glad it was retrieved....and those girls are just too adorable.
I lose single earrings far too often, but they're usually costume. I do have two still-painful jewelry losses I can barely talk about all these years later...suffice to say, the diamonds were not retrieved.
Around 15 years ago I was driving my family through the National Arboretum in Washington, DC. When we reached the exit my wife realized she was missing her wedding ring. It was a hot day, and she'd been riding with an arm out the window and it must have just flown off. We searched and searched, but it's a big place.

Being superstitious, I thought that might mean the end of our marriage. Luckily I was wrong.
LM, as I've often said to myself, "It's only jewelry!"
But wow, that is some difficult situation you describe.
Haha! I love this latest "robbery" though the other ones were scary!

All my jewlery is costume stuff - I have very few precious jewels and rarely wear them, so I can't recall any theft stories (knock on wood), but sadly, someone in my boyfriend's family possibly stole a gold necklace belonging to his recently deceased aunt when everyone was at her house for the wake, and this has torn his family apart. No one knows who could have done it - or even if it just simply went missing. And obviously they're projecting a lot of other feelings onto that necklace. It makes me sad. And now it makes me wish the aunt had had a parrot, so I could show them this article and blame it on the bird!
Innnncredible! This is an EP or else. I am of the one-earring sisterhood and only buy the cheap stuff. The good stuff stays in the box at home and has never been worn!
Ah, jewelry tales! I too had a parrot in Miami steal my shiny stuff, but I fought him for it and won! But much worse for the very little "real" jewelry (i.e.: diamonds) I owned. My husband bought me a parting one karat diamond necklace after he filed for divorce. I insured it as I left for a trip to San Francisco, wearing the necklace. I owned that diamond necklace exactly one week. It was on a very light chain which broke without my knowledge as I went to the "Wild Writing Women's" monthly salon in a SF hotel. I searched the parking lot for two hours and found only the broken chain. The diamond itself I'm sure has made someone very happy. My other diamond, over a karat, was reset in my wedding ring. I felt guilty wearing it on my right hand as I became more socially conscious, and becoming more of an activist for social justice. I worried that it could easily be a "blood" diamond. Took care of that one by leaving the eleven-thousand dollar ring in my checked suitcase through the Amarillo, Texas airport. Never saw it again. That still makes me a bit sad. But both of those were symbols of a failed marriage I felt at that time. Though thirty-three years together isn't a total failure I guess. I took the minimal insurance from it for whatever and didn't replace it. It was a bummer. Now, I don't know that I want expensive jewelry, though I do like shiny things. I better stick with glass...
P.S. LOVE the pictures!!!