One of the diamond engagement rings swallowed by an alleged jewel thief in Queensland, Australia has been lost because police failed to check his stools. Police trusted the alleged thief to return his swallowed loot - but he never delivered. X-rays have confirmed he now has only one of two stolen rings inside him. The other lost ring is suspected to have been in waste bags he handed to police, which were disposed without a search. 50-year-old Mark Watts allegedly stole two diamond rings from an Indooroopilly jeweller last week and swallowed them.
He has been in police custody ever since, as officers waited for the rings to go through his system. They now say one of the rings was inadvertently thrown out in a medical waste bag after Watts passed it. Deputy Police Commissioner Ross Barnett says the officers on duty mistakenly believed Watts would tell them when the ring came out. "With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to sit here and say we should have conducted a secondary search regardless," he said. "It's not embarrassing at all for me because the officers involved acted in good faith.
"This is a rare and difficult set of circumstances - no-one sets out to lose evidence. He obviously has an interest in retrieving and returning the rings - his bail is conditional on it." Police believe the ring was sent to landfill and say the cost of searching for it is greater than its value. "We're fairly confident that it's probably under a huge amount of landfill at a refuse site and will not ever be recovered," he said. Deputy Commissioner Barnett says police will continue to allege the man stole two rings, using initial X-rays as evidence. "I'm very confident that it will have no detrimental impact on the prosecution," he said.
Police say they are now taking Watts to Brisbane airport daily to use a special toilet used by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in similar cases. He has been under constant security camera surveillance and police have also been asking doctors what measures they can take to speed the passing of the second ring. If it doesn't come out, they may be forced to consider more medical intervention, like surgery. "I'm sure, without having spoken to him, he probably regrets it," Deputy Commissioner Barnett said. "It's not a pleasant way to spend a week of your life and it's not over yet." Police are also discussing compensation with the missing ring's owners and Police Ethical Standards Command is investigating the incident.