PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — This late-in-life Internet romance led to stealing a woman's heart and jewelry, according to sheriff's reports.
A Port St. Lucie woman told Martin County Sheriff's Office deputies she met a 58-year-old Stuart retiree, Robert Ackerly, on the Internet in June. That led to their spending time together at her home but jewelry — including her deceased husband's watch — went missing.
She turned to law enforcement for help. Martin County deputies tracked the watch to a pawn shop and the woman confirmed it was the one that vanished from her home. Attached to the pawn shop records were Ackerly's thumb print and a copy of his New York driver's license, reports show.
Deputies couldn't track down other jewelry Ackerly is suspected of taking.
Investigators brought him in for questioning and the unemployed man admitted to taking her jewelry and pawning it. "He was desperate for money and knew what he did was wrong," according to sheriff's arrest reports.
He then offered to write an apology to the woman.
On Tuesday, Ackerly, of the Natalie Estates mobile home park on Southeast Federal Highway, was put in the Martin County Jail under a $12,500 bail on charges of dealing in stolen property and false verification of ownership of items that were pawned.
Ackerly faces the same charges for allegedly taking jewelry from a female neighbor. She and Ackerly became friends and he did repairs in her home and installed a stove. Then in July, she began missing pieces of jewelry, according to reports.
Detectives suspect that other people might have been duped in the same way and are asking people with information to call Sheriff's Detective Jacob Sirmans at 772-220-7060.
Ackerly moved to the Treasure Coast six months ago and in May, Ackerly was arrested for allegedly taking $20 worth of coins from a flea market shop in the 2200 block of Southeast Indian Street in Stuart.
Also, on Aug. 23, he was arrested in connection with the alleged theft and fraudulent return of $354 of electrical wire at the Home Depot in Stuart. Stuart Police arrested him on a charge of making a false report to law enforcement, reports show.