Wedding countdown has one hitch: theft of the couple's rings But police recover jewelry stolen from bride's Jeep

April 19, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Despina Mimaros parked her Jeep Wrangler outside a Highlandtown grocery store for only a moment, but a young thief had just enough time to break in and throw a wedding bash for a loop.

But Baltimore police literally saved the day -- the ceremony is scheduled for Sunday.

They arrested a 15-year-old boy Monday, and on Tuesday found two 14-karat gold wedding bands worth $1,525 hidden in a 100-watt speaker in the suspect's bedroom.

"I was afraid that they wouldn't be able to replace the rings in time," said Ms. Mimaros, who had confronted the boy and begged him to turn over the rings. Police said the boy told them the rings were to be pawned at Patterson High School for $20 each.

Ms. Mimaros, 24, and Paul Rizas, 23, are to be married at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Southeast Baltimore. The theft occurred at a most inopportune time -- in the midst of pre-wedding day frenzy. Also in the leather purse taken from the vehicle were two other rings, two bracelets and a federal income tax refund check for $600. The jewelry was valued at more than $2,500.

"It was a mess," Mr. Rizas said. "It was the wrong time for this to be happening."

Ms. Mimaros and Mr. Rizas are praising the two Southeastern District police officers, Michael McSpadden and Patrick S. Rowe, who recovered the jewelry. The suspect, whose name is being withheld because of his age, was charged as a juvenile with theft from a car and released to his parents' custody.

"They arrested the boy Monday night and didn't find anything," Mr. Rizas said. "By Tuesday night, they called us and said they had everything. It was like a miracle story. They told us it was a million-to-one that we got everything back so fast."

Mr. Rizas, who works for a painting company on Holabird Avenue, and Ms. Mimaros, a paralegal at a downtown law firm, started dating in March 1994.

In September, Mr. Rizas took his girlfriend to the Dolphin show at the National Aquarium and arranged to have her called up from the packed audience to pet the mammals. "The dolphins made some noises and the manager asked Despina what they were saying," Mr. Rizas recalled. "I stood up and said, 'I do. They are asking you to marry me.' "

Ms. Mimaros had their diamond-studded rings in her purse when she stopped at her brother's grocery store Monday evening in the 900 block of S. Curley St. She left the bag on the front seat.

When she emerged a few minutes later, three boys said another youth had stolen the bag. They gave her the teen's name and pointed out his house, where she talked to the youth.

"I said that three people saw him do it, and he denied it," Ms. Mimaros said. "Then I begged him to just give the rings back and I wouldn't press charges. He would have gotten off real easy if he had just been honest from the beginning."

Pub Date: 4/19/96

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