by: KIRO 7 Consumer Investigator Amy Clancy Updated:
TUKWILA, Wash. - An Air Force veteran celebrates the end of a deployment overseas by treating himself to a diamond watch and ring. When the jewelry suddenly disappears, the vet contacts the police. When nearly a year goes by without any arrests, he calls KIRO 7 Consumer Investigator Amy Clancy for help.
The veteran, Kai Bush of Federal Way, says his 16.5 karat diamond watch, and more than 4 karat diamond wedding ring, were too flashy to wear every day, but he wanted to eventually give them to his infant son. So last summer, Bush took the watch and ring to Rialto Fine Jewelry in the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila to be repaired.
“Really nice jewelry. Not cheap at all,” Bush describes the items to Clancy. And because he bought the watch and ring to celebrate the end of a deployment, “it’s not just regular jewelry. It means something.”
Days after leaving his items at Rialto, Bush says he received a call that he could pick up his items. So with receipts in hand, he went back to Rialto. “I said my name’s Kai. I’m here to pick up some jewelry,” Bush tells Clancy. He says, the woman at the counter said, “’Can I have your ID and ticket stub?’ And so I presented my ID and my ticket stub, and that’s when it got bad.”
According to documents obtained by KIRO 7, Bush was told that someone else had picked up his watch and ring. Upset, he called the Tukwila Police Department. According to its incident report, the man who had taken the jewelry "was a black male, between 25-30 years old" who did not have "any paperwork proving the jewelry was his." "The Rialto employee" also "did not check the subject's ID before she released the jewelry." The police report reveals the other man "forged' Bush's signature and was allowed to leave with the items even though a woman with him reportedly said, "This is not your watch."
How it allegedly happened still angers Bush: “That person didn’t have a receipt. That person didn’t have a ticket stub. The ticket stub says ‘no jewelry or no merchandise given without this ticket stub.’”
During the police investigation, the store's owner, Naqueb Rahman, revealed to officers that a man named Carl Gant Junior apparently had a watch on lay-away at the same time Bush's watch was being repaired. According to Rialto's statement to police, "Carl Gant is the young man who came into the store the night of 8/17/11 to pick up the merchandise under Kai Bush."
The Tukwila Police report reveals its officers arrested Gant years ago for shoplifting. And KIRO 7 uncovered Gant's extensive criminal history, including arrests for theft, robbery, assault, jumping bail, and illegal drugs. Tukwila PD spokesman Mike Murphy would not agree to an on-camera interview about what he calls the department’s "open" "criminal investigation" in this case, but in an email Murphy did write: "it appears there was criminal intent on the part of the suspect that took the watch."
However, Gant has not been arrested. And nearly a year later, he's not easy to track down; Consumer Investigators tried. KIRO 7 went to the Des Moines address Gant apparently gave the jewelry store and also visited the Tacoma house the state has as Gant's most recent residence. Despite the ”Gant” name still on the mailbox, someone else tells KIRO 7 he and his family have lived there since May 1, 2012. Consumer Investigators also left multiple phone messages with numbers the Tukwila police department had for Gant and for the woman who was with him when he allegedly left Rialto jewelers with Bush's watch. There was no answer, and so far, Clancy has received no call back.
Nearly a year after Bush’s jewelry disappeared, the Tukwila PD tells Consumer Investigators "few leads remain.” Its spokesman, Mike Murphy, says store employees and Kai Bush are cooperating with the investigation and it appears the only criminal wrongdoing was on the part of the man who took the watch.
Meanwhile, Bush is still waiting for answers. He’s hoping for either an arrest or compensation and he's suing Naqueb Rahman for $6,910.00. “I want this to be over with. I want to stop paying lawyer fees. I just want to be done with this,” Bush tells Clancy saying the whole incident has caused him “a lot of frustration. A lot of frustration because it didn’t have to happen.”
Clancy also reached out to Naqueb Rahman and his attorney requesting an on-camera interview but both declined to comment because of the ongoing civil suit. However, in a letter to police last September, Mr. Rahman urged officers “to recover the property from Gant” so it could be returned to Bush as soon as possible.