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Authorities wait after man is accused of swallowing stolen diamond ring

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 12. 2013 12:13PM
Ronald Perley, 52, of 45 Log St., Manchester, is being held at Valley Street jail until he passes the ring he's alleged to have swallowed, pictured here. (Courtesy)

MANCHESTER - A man accused of stealing a $3,200 diamond ring from an Elm Street jeweler and swallowing it when a locked door kept him from fleeing the store was ordered held at the Hillsborough House of Corrections until the evidence is "passed and collected."

Only then will Ronald Perley, 52, of 45 Log St., be eligible for release on $50,000 cash/surety bail.

Police prosecutor Lt. Peter Favreau requested the unusual bail condition at Perley's arraignment Friday morning in Manchester District Court on felony charges of theft by unauthorized taking and falsifying physical evidence.

Police said Perley entered Bellman Jewelers, 1650 Elm St., Thursday evening and told a sales person he was looking for an engagement ring, but after looking at one ring from a tray and returning it, he took a second ring and ran for the door.

Because of security measures, the door was locked.

Bellman Jewelers president and CEO David Bellman said the door is locked and people are buzzed in and out. It's a crime prevention policy designed to discourage people who are considering a grab-and-run theft.

"It's not to keep people from getting in, it's to keep people from getting out," said Bellman. "The idea is to stop exactly what happened last night."

The video shows Perley tried to open the door and yelled for it to be opened. When sales people confronted Perley about the missing ring, Perley's response was: "What ring?"

But Bellman said not only did his staff see Perley put his hand to his mouth and swallow, but also Perley's actions are visible on the store security video.

Just to be sure, police responding to a theft in progress call searched Perley, with his consent, and searched the store for the missing ring. Officers later also did a strip search of Perley, but no ring was found.

Because Perley wouldn't agree to an X-ray, Detective Patrick Houghton sought a search warrant, citing "the indisputable evidence of the surveillance footage." Houghton wrote: "Mr. Perley's person has been seized - as it contains stolen property inside of it." Houghton also noted in his request that Perley has previously "ingested evidence" as a means of concealment, so an X-ray was needed.

Bellman said he received a call from police at 2 a.m. Friday telling him a search warrant had been obtained and an X-ray clearly showed a ring matching the description of the stolen ring inside Perley's body.

A police prosecutor said following the arraignment that Hillsborough County jail personnel reported the toilet can be disabled so the evidence cannot be flushed.

Bellman described the 14k white gold ring as a three-stone ring, with a large princess cut diamond in the center, smaller stones on either side and another six still smaller stones on the band.

He doesn't known when the ring will be returned, because it is now evidence, along with the X-ray and the surveillance video.

As for what he will do with it when it is returned, Bellman joked that now the ring is famous, maybe he could charge more for it. He said the ring will not be damaged on its passage through Perley, who is scheduled to be back in court April 24 for a probable cause hearing on the ring-related felonies.

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