Wellington Heights students on shopping found jewelry worth $23,500 in city mall

Some of their friends called them crazy, but, “More said it was the right thing to do,” said 17-year-old Jared Mc­Queen.
The Wellington Heights grade 12 student from just outside of Mount forest and his friend, Alex Hess, of Conn, were at Stone Road Mall in Guelph doing some shopping on the afternoon of Dec. 12 when they witnessed a commotion from a restaurant where they were taking a break.
McQueen said they saw a man running through the mall, with a woman from a jewelry store chasing him and yelling for him to stop.
“She got outside the store and she fell,” McQueen said, adding, “But another guy caught the man half way across the parking lot.”
McQueen and Hess “were standing there and trying to figure out what happened” when McQueen stepped on some­thing.
“I felt something under my foot and kicked it out – and it was a ring,” he said.
McQueen and Hess admit­ted that, at first, they did not connect the two incidents, even though there was an uproar in the jewelry store.
Hess said of the ring, “When we saw it, we thought it was a fake. We didn’t read the price tag.”
In fact, McQueen was con­vinced he was holding junk. He saw a tag that said 1.93 on it, and figured that was the ring’s price.
Hess said, “We didn’t read the price tag. We read the carats it has.”
And, McQueen said, “I don’t know diamonds that well. It was yellow. You don’t see yellow diamonds that often.
The two were joined by two other young customers from the restaurant who wanted to know what was going on. Mc­Queen said they were spec­u­lating about that when he turn­ed the ring over and was shock­ed to see a five-figure price tag.
“We kind of put one and one together,” McQueen said after that.
“We knew there was a commotion in the store.
The teens took the ring to the store.
It turned out the store officials had possession of the ring’s case, but not the ring itself, McQueen said.
Guelph Police Sergeant Cate Welsh said, “The two teens, aged 17 and 18 … dis­played great honesty and re­turned the $23,000 ring
She said police learned that at 3:30pm, a man and woman entered the store and tried to distract the clerk.
She said police heard that a 41-year-old Quebec man reach­ed over the display case and took a ring from the case. He ran from the store towards the mall exit.
A 61-year-old female clerk from the store ran after the male and was assisted by sev­eral other shoppers in appre­hending the man in the parking lot. The clerk sustained a minor injury to her left hand when she fell during the pursuit.
Welsh said it was during the chase, that the ring was dis­carded, as well as the dis­play holder.
“We took it over,” McQueen said. “They were kind of shocked to see it.”
Since then, the two have been featured on TV, and have taken some good natured ribbing from their friends. Some told them they were “crazy” to return it because they could have just walked away.
McQueen said he was not so sure about that,  because police would have checked the security cameras.
In any case, the four boys (McQueen and Hess still do not know who they are) were each given a $100 gift certificate by the store, and McQueen and Hess were then given what they said was “a really good deal on a pair of watches.”
McQueen was wearing his at school on Friday. The grade 12 student said he hopes to soon graduate and study ac­counting or international busi­ness. Hess, 18, has his OACs and plans to study business at Sheridan College. He used his gift certificate to get a watch for his girlfriend.
Guelph Police have charged Fernando Gomez Herrera, who   appeared in court the next day for a bail hearing, charged with theft over $5,000.
Welsh said, “the Guelph Police Service GPS was very impressed with their honesty, and enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with youth in such a positive way.
She added they will have other honours, too. They will be receiving certificates of appreciation from the Police Chief Rob Davis.