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Trio arrested in $61,000 jewelry store theft

Three people face aggravated theft charges after one allegedly stole thousands of dollars in rings from an Ashland jewelry store while two others distracted a sales associate.

Eleven of the 15 rings taken from Gold & Gems Fine Jewelry last week remain missing after Anthony Michael Verastegui, 25, allegedly stole a jewelry display while Kelli N. O'Neil, 22, and Jonathon Andres Collins, 24, created a diversion. Each ring was valued greater than $1,000, and the lot's value totaled $61,000, according to documents filed by Ashland police.

On May 10, store surveillance allegedly captured Verastegui reaching behind a counter and taking the display from a glass case while O'Neil and Collins caused the distraction, an affidavit shows. 

Later that day, Verastegui allegedly conspired with another suspect, who sold one of the stolen rings to Rogue Valley Coin and Jewelry for $150. The fourth suspect has not been charged in the crime, court documents show, but Verastegui reportedly told police he enlisted the person to sell it because he, O'Neil and Collins lacked identification needed to sell the ring.

Police seized the ring sold to Rogue Valley Coin and Jewelry, along with three others in Verastegui's possession, when Medford police arrested him Saturday, May 13, on unrelated burglary, theft, robbery and heroin possession charges.

The unrelated charges stem from an residential burglary and a thwarted shoplift attempt at the south Medford Walmart Saturday in which he allegedly resisted arrest.

Verastegui earlier this week entered not guilty pleas on felony charges of first-degree burglary and first-degree theft in the burglary case. He remained lodged in the Jackson County Jail Friday on $65,000 bail, records show.

Verastegui, Collins and O'Neil each have appearances in Jackson County Circuit Court Friday afternoon on a felony count of aggravated first-degree theft.

Collins and O'Neil remained lodged Friday on respective bails of $10,000 and $5,000. Neither has a prior criminal history in Jackson County, records show.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.