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Thousands in missing coins found

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Eric Doepp chose the wrong store to enter Wednesday afternoon.

When Hardy’s Coin Shop owner Oakel Hardy saw Doepp walk through his store at 2739 Central Ave., he recognized a regular customer and someone he suspected of burglarizing his store just a few weeks earlier.

So Hardy phoned Columbus police, who arrested Doepp, 28, of Hope, at 2:56 p.m. on two felony counts of burglary plus one felony count each of theft and possession of a controlled substance, as well as two misdemeanor charges. Doepp was put on 72-hour hold at the Bartholomew County Jail.

Police recovered what was estimated as $20,000 worth of coins and collectibles from Doepp’s residence and car.

Oakel’s Coin Shop was burglarized Sept. 2. The store’s shattered glass and a trail of blood inside led the Columbus Police Department to believe that the burglar suffered cuts during the break-in.

Three days later, video surveillance recorded a burglar with a bandage on his right hand robbing the Exit 76 Antique mall at about 1 a.m. Columbus and the Edinburgh police exchanged information on the robberies and believed them to be connected.

Oakel recognized the man in the Exit 76 Antique Mall video as a somewhat regular customer of his shop and was able to help Columbus police identify and locate Doepp.

“This whole process is really how it should work,” said Lt. Matt Myers, police department spokesman. “This is community-police partnership. If you get the information to us ... it can basically bust a case wide open.”

A rare, 1899 $5 note was one of the most valuable items displayed Thursday on a table of evidence. Oakel estimated it to be worth about $1,000.

But even more valuable to Oakel was a green-and-black box that was also recovered.

It’s something the shop owner considered one of his most prized possessions, a community service award presented by former Mayor Fred Armstrong upon Oakel’s 2011 retirement as information services manager for the city.

“It’s basically irreplaceable,” he said. “I had an enormous amount of respect for Mayor Armstrong. Other things can be replaced at a price, but that’s just something that’s absolutely priceless.”

Oakel said Doepp stole some items from his shop a few years back, but Doepp made restitution and Hardy didn’t press charges.

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