Major Native American jewelry collection stolen


SANTA FE, ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A Santa Fe woman who’s spent most of her life collecting expensive, historic Native American jewelry now needs your help.

About a week ago, a thief hauled away more than 400 of Joan Caballero’s rare and unique pieces, and now they are popping up in Albuquerque.

Some of these pieces are more than 100 years old and represent the work of Native American artists across New Mexico.

“This is a 30 year collection,” said Caballero.

Caballero has one of the most unique Southwest Native American jewelry collections in New Mexico.

“These are all fairly early pieces,” said Caballero.

A life long expert in native arts, Caballero even been an appraiser for “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS. Now what is left of her collection is just a small fraction of what it was.

“As anyone can attest to, your heart is ripped out,” said Caballero.

On July 1, while Caballero was out of town, police say someone broke into her secure, indoor storage locker at Extra Space Storage in Santa Fe near Saint Michael’s and Saint Francis. Her locker was even under video surveillance.

“Cut through the chain, cut through the lock, they also cut the video surveillance cables,” said Lt. Andrea Dobyns, a spokeswoman for the Santa Fe Police Department. “When they entered the storage facility, that was the only storage shed that had items stolen from it.”

Santa Fe Police spent Monday combing through local jewelry and pawn shops in Albuquerque. They were able to recover some of what was stolen.

“It’s just different from real kind of cheesy stuff that you see,” said Caballero.

Joan is hoping people will recognize more of the unique jewelry though. More than 400 pieces were stolen from the collection.

“This is the most important collection that I would really love to get back,” said Caballero.

Caballero estimates that hundreds of earrings, bracelets, necklaces and more are still missing. The collection is vast with some of the artists coming from the Navajo Nation and Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico. Caballero that it’s all worth between $40,000 and $100,000.

“These in my opinion are some of the cream of the crop,” said Caballero.

She’s now asking for people to watch out for the very unique Native American art.

“It’s extremely important to get them back,” said Caballero.

Police say they’re still looking for suspects in this case and that pawn and jewelry selling shops have been cooperating with their investigation.

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