My Friend Jon is Having a Bad Week

$10 million in diamonds get accidentally thrown away, then stolen out of the trash by the security guard.  

To me, this proves that crazy stuff can happy to anyone.  Jon is as bright and hard-working as anyone I know.  He is also entirely trustworthy and honorable in a business that often lacks these qualities.  The thief apparently sold one large stone, about 10 ct., to someone in the same building** who then cut it down to 9 ct. and resold it.  There would be no reason for a dealer to cut down an already cut stone, since it substantially reduced the value, unless he knew the stone to be stolen and was purposely trying to disguise the stone for resale.  Its like a thief robbing your house and selling your TV to your neighbor, who changes the label so you won't recognize it when you come over.


** all of the major diamond dealers in New York seem to work in just 2 buildings on Fifth Avenue.


  1. IsaacCrawford:

    Just FYI, it is possible to raise the value of a stone by recutting it if the original cut isn't very good. There are folks that go to the annual Tuscon gem show, buy a big stone that had been cut in India and then resell it a few days later for a decent profit despite having lost some weight. Colored stones cut on jamb and peg systems are notorious for their imprecise facets and sub-optimal angles. I've never heard of that being the case with diamonds but the strategy of cutting for maximum weight instead of maximum brilliance does happen with diamonds and can affect the price negatively.

    You're probably right about the motivation in this particular case but I wanted to let you know that there are reasons to recut stones that both sacrifice weight and make the value go up.

  2. mjed:

    "stolen out of the trash" - I'm sorry for your friend, but you need to help me with this statement. If it's been discarded in the trash, why would the property be considered stolen? I'm sure you leave things in the trash all the time that you perceive as having no value whereas others may value them (old TVs, kids toys, bicycles, etc.)

  3. mesaeconoguy:

    All of the major jewelers in Chicago work on Wabash Ave south of Washington in The Loop.

    My neighbor in Chicago used to go to work with a suitcase handcuffed to him.

  4. Not Sure:

    I would think there's a difference between intentionally discarding something and accidentally putting something in the trash that was not intended to go there. But then again, IANAL and am just looking at the situation as I believe a reasonable, albeit imperfect, person might.

  5. mjed:

    IANAL either, but your argument seems to address the intent of the person(s) discarding the goods. The person acquiring such goods from the trash would not be able to discern intent. So it's far from clear to me, especially given my perception of Coyote's leanings in favor of the individual over the state in matters of uncertainty, why the state would incarcerate the security guard.

    If the footage indicated that the guard him (or her)self placed the boxes in the trash with the implicit intent of absconding them as "trash" then I withdraw my argument. But if they were mistakenly placed there by janitorial services, or Jon himself, I don't see what the guard did as criminal.

    Said differently, let's say the box made it to all the way to a landfill, and a scavenger dug up the box - still stolen property? What about in the garbage truck on the way to the landfill? Or the receptacle in the basement of the building? At what point in the chain of custody can the box be considered "trash" leaving the acquirer of the box with safe harbor?

  6. xtmar:

    While you argue your point well, I think there are some things so intrinsically valuable that they can never really be discarded in the same way an old bike or a stereo set can be. If you find a gold bar on the side of the road or in a landfill, it's almost certainly lost and not discarded by its original owner. The owner may not have legal title any longer, depending on the circumstances, but morally it remains his.

  7. kidmugsy:

    Taking something that doesn't belong to you from the trash may or may not be classified as theft according to the jurisdiction. (So I understand, but I am an amateur, open to correction.)

    The point is surely that mostly people positively welcome the idea that someone will take a discarded toy for their children so there's no practical reason for a charge of theft to be brought. Here, however ......

  8. Not Sure:

    Would anybody with a minimum of three functioning brain cells honestly believe that a jeweller would be intentionally throwing away $10 million worth of diamonds? Not a chance. What to do about the guard? I don't know.

    "At what point in the chain of custody can the box be considered "trash" leaving the acquirer of the box with safe harbor?"

    I would think at such point in time that the owner of the property could not reliably be identified. I know that's vague, but that's all I've got.

  9. Seekingfactsforsanity:

    Police actually seek out and are far more frequently put in situations where someone is likely to get killed or seriously injured compared to the average worker. Training and survival instincts are always on their mind. Consequently, someone can make your observation "that the rate at which police are killed by gun violence IS NOT SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER (but higher?) than for the average citizen." An officer's daily path leads through "HARMS WAY", and if they are not extremely careful and cautious, the path takes them directly through the door of "DEATH OR SEVERE INJURY".

  10. Incunabulum:

    No it doesn't.

  11. Incunabulum:

    I would think that that wouldn't matter *as a question of law*. Sure, anyone with three functioning brain cells would know that it was a mistake and anyone with an ounce of decency would have returned the diamonds to help a fellow out.

    But if they didn't it wouldn't be stealing .

  12. Incunabulum:

    Sure - morally. But if you put it in your pocket and took it home with the intention to resell, as a matter of *law*, it wouldn't be *theft*.

  13. xtmar:

    If that true though? I think insurers of ships retain title to the cargo (and the ship) even if somebody else recovers it from a wreck, though the finder is entitled to fairly generous compensation. Obviously admiralty law has lots of quirks not present in other types of law, but it suggests that people still retain title to their property even if an accident temporarily moves it beyond their reach.

  14. Chris:

    10ct diamonds are not cut badly ever.

  15. mx:

    The distinction here is that it seems nobody actually took the trash out to the curb. The diamonds were still in the trash can, possibly still inside the shop. The situation if the trash was on the curb/at the transfer station/buried in the landfill is more complicated. But if I happen to put my property in a cylindrical container under my sink, it doesn't magically become fair game for anybody to take.

  16. Rammar:

    That the guard was clearly in the wrong is not in question to me. In no way would this be considered abandoned (as opposed to mislaid or lost) by any rational human being. Even if the boxes had 'FREE' written all over them, I would think the value of the item would require a bit more diligence to obtain proper ownership of (say a signed contract). They also undertook no good-faith attempt to determine the items last owner (which I believe is typically required, eg. placing it in lost-and-found, contacting the shop staff, police, etc).

    My main questions are if this is criminal or merely a civil issue (especially considering the value), and if the guard could be held liable for the remaining losses incurred.

    Of interest:,_mislaid,_and_abandoned_property and this quote from a court decision: "A finder of property acquires no rights in mislaid property, is entitled to possession of lost property against everyone except the true owner, and is entitled to keep abandoned property."

  17. Not Sure:

    "But if they didn't it wouldn't be stealing ."

    "What to do about the guard? I don't know."

    Just sayin'.

  18. Incunabulum:

    The guard is easy - is a simple civil case. Judge yells at guard for being an idiot and tells him to return the *found* property and/or any money made off of selling it. End of case.

  19. Incunabulum:

    Yes - but taking the cargo would still not be *theft* if you didn't know that convention. The taker can/should be forced to return the mislaid property, but the act of taking it in the first place is not theft.

  20. Baelzar:

    What happened to the other 6.8 million in diamonds?