Army Lt. Col. Joe Jackson had spent nine months in Afghanistan, his fourth tour of duty during the past 5½ years.
Since he’s stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., and he doesn’t want his personal valuables stored in a long-term unit, he keeps them in his mother’s house in Middletown.
“For safe keeping,” said his mother, Rosaland Jackson, 77, who has suffered several strokes.
Then she caught herself: “They weren’t safe.”
When Jackson, 48, a 1989 Middletown High School graduate, visited his mother for Thanksgiving after his deployment, he walked into the basement and noticed his Army footlocker had been rummaged through. At first, he thought one of his mom’s three cats was responsible.
Then he realized all his valuables were gone.
The Grinch stopped by Middletown early.
On Nov. 23, Jackson reported to Middletown police that $17,000 worth of items were stolen, including a 1993 Purdue University class ring, his father’s Xavier University class ring, a 1927 Cole Safety Association ring, numerous watches, including two with Armco logos, and two Army vests.
His mother said those rings “meant a lot” to her son.
Jackson told police she was missing a $2,000 Kay Jewelers necklace.
The Armco watches, appraised at $100 each, had more sentimental value, he said. They were given to him by “a dear friend,” who worked at the Middletown steel plant at the turn of the century. Jackson called them “one of a kind” and he hoped to get them refurbished.
“They stole some history,” Jackson said during a telephone interview from Georgia.
His mother said she was “just distraught, very distraught” when she heard about her son’s missing items.
“Angry,” she said. “They helped themselves.”
In the basement, there also was a collection of his field and dress uniforms from his tours of duty in Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
When Jackson contacted his insurance company, he was told his mother’s items were covered, but his were not because he didn’t live there.
He told police he was home for Valentine’s Day and the items were in the basement. He’s worried his items will be sold in a local pawn shop for a few hundred dollars.
“What a shame,” he said.
There were no signs of forced entry, so Jackson believes someone who cares for his mother, who requires around-the-clock care, may be responsible.
“Someone took advantage of mom’s situation,” Jackson said.
It’s “highly unlikely,” he said that someone broke into the home and stole the items. They were hidden in the basement and he believes they were stolen at night when his mother was sleeping.
At about the same time the thieves were striking, Jackson was in Afghanistan fighting for our freedom.
In a “perfect world,” he said, the thieves would do the “right thing” and return the items.
It’s probably too late for that.