Helmut Schmidt, Published July 11 2013
Man says Fargo cabbie drove off with wedding rings
The Grand Forks man bought a $6,800 diamond engagement and wedding ring set June 29 at a West Acres jewelry store.
Then the 26-year-old civil engineer spent that evening hanging out and having a good time with two buddies in Fargo. In the early morning hours of June 30, he decided to call a cab to haul him from Fargo to his home in Grand Forks.
On the way to Interstate 29 to head north and home, he asked the cabbie to stop at Love’s Travel Stop in south Fargo so he could get cash from the ATM to pay for the ride.
Unfortunately, Ackert said, when he got out of the cab he left a Helzberg Diamonds bag holding his engagement and wedding rings on the front seat.
Ackert said he walked out of the store, only to see the cabbie pull out of the lot without waiting to get paid.
“Probably not the smartest move at the time, but I really wanted to get home,” Ackert said. “I didn’t say a word to him (the cabbie), I literally walked out of the door and he was pulling away from me.”
The set included a three-quarter carat diamond engagement ring with black and white diamonds surrounding the big stone and on the sides of the band, and a wedding band, also with black and white diamonds, he said. His bride-to-be picked out the rings.
Ackert said gas station workers called Fargo police, and police called the cab driver back to the store. He said police told him the cabbie said he never entered the cab with the bag. Ackert said he has a witness who saw him get into the cab with the bag.
The Forum requested the police report of the incident, but police Lt. Joel Vettel said Thursday that because the case is still an open investigation, it is not yet a public document.
Part of that police report includes surveillance tape from the truck stop, Ackert said.
Ackert and his father, also named David Ackert, said police have said they don’t have enough evidence yet for a criminal case, and have suggested that he consider taking the matter to civil court, where the burden of proof is lower.
The younger Ackert said he’s not naming the cab company yet, just in case a dispute over publicity from the case before a complaint is filed could have a spillover effect on the civil trial.
Ackert’s father ran a classified ad on The Forum’s website last week, in the lost and found section:
“I am offering a $500 reward for the return of both rings and/or information that leads to the recovery of the rings with no questions asked. Please contact me at (651) 334-4410. Thank you, Dave,” the ad said.
So far, the ads have had no nibbles, Ackert said.
He said his insurance company will only reimburse him $1,000 for the rings because he didn’t inform the firm that he had bought the items.
“I never thought I’d have a problem within 12 hours” of buying the rings, Ackert said.
The limit for damages in a small claims lawsuit in North Dakota is $10,000. The case must be filed within six years.
Ackert said he gave police the serial number of the ring, so that number has been distributed to area pawn shops.
If anything good has come of this, it’s that Ackert’s gal is still his best pal, he said.
Ackert said he knew “there was no way I could keep it from her.”
On Sunday, June 30, after losing her rings in the early morning hours, Ackert proposed to Jen Soukup in Grand Forks.
“I bought her some flowers and a cheap ring from the gas station,” he said.
Apparently, the $40 ring from a Stamart jewelry cart did the trick.
Soukup said yes.
“Thank God!” Ackert said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583