STOCKTON, CA - Someone was staking out Jane Kenworthy's American Legion Park home, but she didn't know it was a target until her postman noticed her front door was wide-open.
He immediately ran to a neighbor's home and had them call Kenworthy.
"I raced home from my office and found all of my gold jewelry, my mother's jewelry, my grandmother's jewelry, was taken," Kenworthy said.
Stockton police told her the burglars most likely worked in a team of three.
"A young person will come up on a bicycle and with a phone and he'll case the homes to see if anyone is home," Kenworthy explained what police told her.
Stockton police believe a call is then placed to two more friends, who break in through the backyard and burglarize the house.
The desired booty is often gold. In Kenworthy's case, it was her most valued gifts from her parents.
"While they weren't terribly expensive, they were all I had in memory of them."
Police said Kenworthy did the best thing she could: she wrote descriptions of the stolen jewelry and spent the next three days visiting pawn shops and gold dealers. She struck gold at one shop, Pacific Gold & Coin.
"The owner of that shop on Pacific Avenue actually showed me what he had taken in for the last two days," Kenworthy said. "And I found some of my old things."
The store even called police when the seller returned with more of Kenworthy's jewelry. He was a 17-year-old with a loaded handgun on him.
Under state law, all second-hand dealers: - pawn shops, gold dealers and flea markets - must take photo IDs, finger prints, and get pawn slips on each item, but despite all of the new regulations, the employees at Pacific Gold & Coin said stolen goods are still coming through their doors and the doors of every other store in town.
Stockton police agree, saying the original thieves will get underaged teens or girlfriends to sell the goods. Often times, the seller's fingerprints don't match the crime scene and the sellers can only be prosecuted for possession of stolen property. If robbery victims like Kenworthy don't visit the gold stores within 30 days, their gold will likely be gone, along with any chance to arrest the thieves.
"I don't know how many people go around town to try to reclaim their materials," said Kenworthy. "It's sad, just sad.