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Modesto city workers sold jewelry found in sewers

March 22, 2013 |  7:46 am

Finders keepers?

Modesto city officials are trying to determine if a crime was committed when city workers sold jewelry they found in city sewers.

The sales came to light after routine checks of jewelry purchased by gold and coin dealers, Fox 40 in Sacramento reported.

Employees at Modesto Gold, Jewelry and Coin said workers wearing city uniforms routinely sold the tarnished and eroded jewelry to them as scrap. Police said the jewelry was worth as much as $2,500.

But who does the jewelry belong to? Police are trying to determine if a crime was committed. The city manager’s office is also reviewing its policy.

Normally, when city employees find something of value, an effort is made to return it to the owner, the TV station reported. But the jewelry, mostly rings, was in such bad shape from chemicals in the sewer system that identifying the items was virtually impossible.

One city resident says the nasty job deserves some perks.

“If I had a job like that I’d like to be able to keep what I found,” said Jeff Hanawalt.

Claude Sutherland, the owner of the store, said he believed no crime was committed.

"I don’t think they did anything wrong," he said.

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-- Lonnie Wong, Fox40 in Sacramento

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