Pat Reavy, Deseret News
Two 14-karat gold bracelets were returned to a Salt Lake pawn shop after a woman allegedly stole them by swallowing them.

The two bracelets are each 14-karat gold. One is 38 grams, the other 8 grams. The larger one has diamonds.

The jewelry is large enough, and bulky enough, that the last way one would expect someone to steal both bracelets is by swallowing them.

But that's exactly what 41-year-old Norma Porchas is accused of doing.

Porchas has been going to Hy and Mike's Pawn shop, 505 S. Redwood Road, for four years, occasionally stopping in to buy jewelry.

On May 27, pawn shop owner Len Chitty said Porchas came into his store and was again looking at several pieces of jewelry, including two bracelets.

"She palmed one, put it in her mouth. Palmed another and put it in her mouth," Chitty said.

A clerk who was helping Porchas and having a conversation with her noticed that Porchas suddenly was only saying "mmm-hmm" for all her answers, Chitty said.

Porchas then began pacing about the store, tilting her head to one side as she did, he said. A few minutes later, she was able to talk again.

"There's no way she could have carried on a conversation (with the bracelets still in her mouth)," Chitty said.

The only place they could have gone was down her throat into her digestive system, he said.

Six days later, after police had reviewed the store's surveillance tape, an officer went to Porchas' home where the jewelry was no longer inside Porchas.

This week, she was charged in 3rd District Court with third-degree felony retail theft because the bracelets were worth a total of about $2,000.

"We know times get rough. But she could have talked to us," Chitty said. "We could have worked something out."

He said he had never seen anyone steal merchandise from his store before by swallowing it, but added, "There's no telling if she's done it before."

"To actually see somebody do it was pretty impressive," Chitty said with a chuckle.


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