Aspidistra store targeted by thieves ahead of opening

Thieves stole more than $15,000 worth of fine jewelry and other belongings reported missing last week from Aspidistra, a new gallery and shop set to open later this month in Vashon Village.

Owner Susi Johnston is offering a reward for several of the stolen items that she believes are priceless due to their historical, cultural and personal significance.

“[The stolen pieces] shouldn’t just be out there, someone just toying around with them,” she said.

The most precious artifacts lost include two gold rings and a 28-quartz crystal bead necklace. One of the rings is set with a banded agate intaglio representing an elephant that can be traced to an early Buddhist kingdom in south Sumatra. The other ring is pressed gold with a traditional guardian mask from the Singosari/Majapahit Hindu kingdoms of Java Island in Indonesia. The necklace has been exhibited at events in Paris, Brussels, New York and San Francisco. All three pieces are estimated to be thousands of years old.

Johnston said that she can’t exactly place when the robbery may have occurred. She was with her family celebrating Father’s Day and hadn’t been in the store between June 16 to 20.

Also taken from the premises were several bluetooth speakers, two iPhones and a bag of Johnston’s personal jewelry that contained two watches, pearl earrings and several sentimental gold pieces.

According to Ryan Abbott of the King County Sheriff’s Department, there were no signs of forced entry at the scene, though it is possible that the suspect entered through an open second-story window. However, no fingerprints were found by investigators, and nothing else suggested the break-in had occurred in that manner.

Asked if she expected to open Aspidistra as scheduled on June 30, Johnston was unwavering. “Absolutely,” she said. “ Yes, it’s still on. It’s going to be big and wonderful and beautiful.”

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