Burglars steal more than just wedding rings

Memories, emotions associated with items can never be replaced

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JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Betty Turner and her late husband Gene celebrated their 50th anniversary five years ago when Gene surprised his wife with a diamond tennis bracelet as an anniversary gift. The bracelet was stolen Monday along with her and her husband's wedding rings.

COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene resident Betty Turner left her cherished jewelry at home on Monday because she was afraid to lose any of it while she spent the afternoon boating on Hayden Lake.

But during the afternoon, as she enjoyed the summer-like weather, a brazen daytime burglary was taking place at her home on the 5700 block of N. Isabella Drive, just off Dalton Avenue.

Turner said her wedding ring and her late husband Gene's wedding band were taken by the burglar or burglars, who also snatched a bracelet he bought her worth thousands of dollars to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

"If I didn't get anything back but his ring, I'd be so happy," she said.

When he was going through chemotherapy, he'd always take his white-gold wedding band off and give it to her to wear.

Since his death, she wore it every day on her ring finger, held in place by her wedding ring.

Gene, 74, died last October, and a couple days before he passed she slipped it off his finger for the last time.

As the burglars went through her house, they opened up the urn with Gene's ashes, partially taking the wooden box apart looking for valuables.

"It sent me off into the deep for a bit," she said. "Just the thought that they messed with it."

Whenever she wasn't wearing the jewelry, she would always keep it in a safe. But on Monday, as she rushed to get ready for the lake, she accidentally left the valuables sitting on the washing machine in a small wooden bowl.

"They must have thought, 'She left us a present,'" she said of the burglars.

She said the engraving on his wedding band says something like: "I love you more today than yesterday, and less than tomorrow."

She didn't have pictures of the jewelry she could share with The Press.

Gene's wedding band, like the other jewelry, might be replaced by insurance, but, she said, "It will never be the one I took off his hand."

As for the bracelet, which Gene bought five years ago, a replacement "won't be the one he picked out for me all by himself."

To get inside her home, the burglars kicked in a door to the garage, according to a Coeur d'Alene Police Department report. The report estimated the value of her stolen jewelry at $9,000.

If the jewelry isn't recovered, she said, she hopes to do what she and Gene talked about many times before - go and again try and find his first wedding band.

Years ago, they were renting a house in Sandpoint and he was picking rocks out of the yard.

He tossed one rock and the band went flying off with it.

"It just went glittering in the sun," she recalled.

They searched the field, but they never found it. The wedding band was engraved with something like: "Betty to Gene, 6-6-57."

Betty and Gene always talked about returning with a metal detector.

"I would love to go and look for it one more time," she said.

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press A burglar rifled through the urn of Betty Turner's late husband during a break-in of her Coeur d'Alene home Monday. Betty and Gene Turner's wedding rings were stolen as well as a tennis bracelet Betty Turner received from her late husband for their 50th wedding anniversary.

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