Man gets prison in $263k jewelry burglary

By Nick Morgan

June 30, 2018

A man was sentenced Friday to nearly three years in prison after admitting he filled a duffel bag with six figures worth of jewelry during a Medford pawn shop burglary.

Stephen Wesley Bryant, 42, pleaded guilty to felony counts of aggravated theft and second-degree burglary in Jackson County Circuit Court, admitting he broke into Southern Oregon Pawn and made off with hundreds of jewelry pieces from the shop’s display case before dawn April 2.

Bryant said little at the hearing beyond, “I accept that amount,” as his court-appointed defense lawyer, Amy Young, sought more time to verify a restitution sheet totaling $263,616.75.

During the hearing, Southern Oregon Pawn owner Peter Schulzke said that virtually none of the jewelry has been recovered.

“I’d like to find out what happened to it, to be honest,” Schulzke said. “As would my insurance.”

Schulzke said his alarm system had been activated but “did not work.” More than 700 pieces of jewelry were taken, his inventory logs showed. His security cameras captured the heist, which involved three visits and lasted more than 90 minutes.

“It’s crazy,” Schulzke said.

Bryant reportedly entered through a side door after the broken-glass alarm failed to trip, according to Schulzke, and made off with at least one laptop bag filled with electronics. Bryant wore a mask and heavy gloves during the burglary, and returned two more times by bike — once because he lacked a tool used to pry open display cases, and again to fill bags described by police in court documents as a duffel bag and a sea bag.

“He basically knew which cases to go to,” Schulzke said.

The jewelry retailed for $260,000 but cost the business $156,000, Schulzke said in court.

A break in the case came April 17, when a woman pawned a pair of men’s eight-karat gold rings with their diamonds removed at Father and Son Jewelry. The business uploaded photographs of the rings to the Leads Online database, used by Medford police and 27 pawn shops in the area.

A Southern Oregon Pawn employee alerted police to the match, and Father and Son Jewelry gave police the woman’s contact information.

The woman, who had been lodged in the Jackson County Jail on methamphetamine charges, told police she got the rings from an acquaintance she knew as “Stretch.” A search of the woman’s home revealed the missing diamonds and Southern Oregon Pawn price tags. The woman provided police with Bryant’s Facebook page and cellphone number.

She hasn’t been charged in the case, and was described during Bryant’s hearing as a witness.

Bryant was arrested May 1, court documents show.

Bryant’s lawyer had negotiated a 24-month prison sentence with Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz in the case, but Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack added 10 months to the sentence by ordering that a portion of the aggravated first-degree theft and second-degree burglary convictions be served consecutively, rather than concurrently.

“It seems so brazen to me,” Barnack said of the crime.

Barnack cited Bryant’s extensive criminal history, which included 52 arrests in California and at least 16 prior convictions.

“I look at him and I look at his record – it’s just too long,” Barnack said. “As a judge, I don’t have to follow the recommendation, and this time I’m not going to do it.”