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Sandy woman makes deal to retrieve stolen wedding ring

Published: Thursday, Sept. 19 2013 5:35 p.m. MDT

SANDY — A woman who had her wedding ring stolen from a Sandy gym has been reunited with the ring, more than a month after the theft.

Rebecca Cottam said Thursday she does not intend to press charges against the thief, part of a deal she made to persuade the woman to help her get her ring returned.

“The most important thing was just to get my ring back,” Cottam said. “I was just willing to do whatever I could. I think she’ll get what’s coming to her in time. I just don’t want to be a liar. She’s a thief. I don’t want to be a liar.”

Sandy police recovered the heirloom diamond from a store at The Gateway shopping center in Salt Lake City. Cottam said the woman admitted to selling it for $200.

“It made me sick to my stomach,” she said of that revelation.

Cottam was relieved, however, that the diamond had not been resold. She said it had only been modified to remove a small flaw.

The story of Cottam and her diamond ring began on Aug. 13 at the Gold’s Gym at 7990 S. 1300 East. Detectives believe the thief likely used bolt cutters to cut through a lock and gain access to Cottam’s belongings.

The next day, Cottam began a social media campaign to recover her ring. The case went viral, resulting in thousands of “shares” on Facebook.

There was no surveillance footage available from the initial heist, but a break in the case occurred when the same thief hit the same gym six days later. Somebody saw something the second time around, Cottam said, and investigators were ultimately able to track down the suspect.

Cottam said the woman originally denied taking her ring but changed her story after police confronted her with surveillance video from another store where she used a gift card found in Cottam’s purse.

Cottam then tried a different tactic through police intermediaries — she promised not to press charges if the woman would lead her to her ring. The deal and tireless investigative work from detective Tyson Downey paid off, she said.

Sandy Police Sgt. Jon Arnold said an outcome like this one — with stolen property like a wedding ring being recovered — is extremely rare.

Before the break in the case, Cottam said she had started to lose hope of ever seeing the heirloom again. "People were telling me just to move on. 'It's been a long time, just move on,'" she said.

But the moment when finger and ring were reunited was almost overwhelming.

“I mean, I just started bawling,” she said. “I was in tears. My hands were shaking.”

Email: aadams@deseretnews.com

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