The Ring-Stealing Ring

By Hy Conrad

The teenagers sat around the bare table in the small, bare room. All three chewed and snapped their gum and looked sullen. Sherman Holmes and Zach Alban, the jewelry store owner, stood by helplessly, watching the two boys and the girl as all of them continued to wait for the police.

Zach led Sherman out into the hall where they could talk privately. “Are you sure they stole the ring?” he asked with a nervous twitch.

Ring StealingSherman sighed. He almost wished he hadn’t gotten involved. He had walked into Alban Jewelers that morning to have his pocket watch fixed. Almost immediately, he became suspicious of the girl and her two friends hovering over the ring counter. As a matter of habit, Sherman made a quick perusal of the display case.

While Zach Alban was examining Sherman’s century-old timepiece, the three teenagers started heading for the exit. Sherman threw another quick glance toward the ring counter. The centerpiece of the display, a sapphire and gold ring, was not where it had been just a minute before. It was gone.

For a short, heavyset person, Sherman could move surprisingly fast. “They’re stealing a ring,” he shouted as he raced to block the door.

The teenagers vehemently denied the theft and threatened a lawsuit if they weren’t allowed to leave.

“I can’t search them until the police arrive,” Zach moaned. “Maybe it’s all a mistake. Maybe I didn’t put the ring out this morning. Or maybe someone stole it earlier and I didn’t notice.”

“The ring was there,” Sherman assured him. “One of them stole it.”

Red and white lights flashed through the windows as a police cruiser pulled into the handicap parking space. Two officers entered, were briefed on the situation, and were led into the small back room.

The female officer searched the girl, Hanna Bright, while the male officer frisked both Josh Ingram and Timmy Bright, Hanna’s brother. Their possessions were searched as well. A quick visual inspection of the room showed no place where the ring could have been hidden.

Zach Alban was profuse with apologies to everyone except Sherman. When the teens complained of being hungry, Zach ran out to the fast-food restaurant next door and returned a few minutes later with mounds of food. Hanna and Josh removed the wads of gum from their mouths before sinking into the hot double cheeseburgers.

“We came in to buy a present for Josh’s mom.” Food was sticking to Hanna’s braces as she spoke. “Is this how you treat customers? We’re telling everyone not to shop here.”

“Maybe we’ll organize a boycott,” Josh added. “How would you like a picket line, Mr. Alban?”

Sherman took Zach aside. “I wasn’t wrong,” he insisted. “One of those kids took the ring. And what’s more, I can prove it.”



Zach eyed his old friend with evident distrust.  “Sherman, if you can prove they stole the ring, why didn’t you do it ten minutes ago.

“I would have proved it earlier, but legally we couldn’t search them.”

“Search them?”  Zach was livid.  “What are you talking about?  The police just did search them.”

Sherman was used to holding his temper and being polite.  “Before you and I left the back room,” he said calmly, “all three suspects were chewing gum, correct?”

Zach thought for a second.  “Correct.”

“And yet, when it came time to eat the hamburgers, only two of them removed the gum from their mouths.  What happened to the third kid’s gum?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe he swallowed it.”

Without another word of speculation, Sherman walked into the back room.  Kneeling down, he checked under the table and the chairs.  “Here it is,” he said, lifting up a chair and showing the underside.  “Timmy’s chair.  I’m also willing to bet this is Timmy’s gum stuck on the bottom and your ring stuck in the middle of it.  I won’t touch it, in case there’s a partial print.”