Transient arrested on suspicion of stealing engagement ring from San Leandro fast food restaurant

- A 51-year-old transient was arrested Friday for stealing an 18-year-old woman's engagement ring at a fast food restaurant in San Leandro earlier this month, police said.

The ring was in a backpack that was stolen from the 18-year-old woman, who accidentally left it unattended in the dining area of the Jack in the Box restaurant at 699 Lewelling Blvd. while she was working there on Oct. 6, according to police.

The employee, who was recently engaged to marry, had her diamond engagement ring inside her backpack along with cash and other valuables, police said. 

The 18-year-old realized the backpack was left behind and only minutes later returned to find that it was gone, according to police. The woman's total loss was estimated at $1,500.

Police said surveillance video from the Jack in the Box showed a suspect later identified as Karen Cotton in the dining area selecting the backpack and removing it from the restaurant.

A photo of Cotton was released to news outlets on Oct. 12 and the next day detectives received a tip identifying her as the suspect, according to police.

Additional investigation confirmed that the suspect seen in the surveillance video stealing the victim's backpack was in fact Cotton.

A judge issued a warrant for Cotton's arrest on Oct. 17 and detectives located and arrested her in the 15400 block of Hesperian Boulevard at about noon today, according to police.

Detectives tried to talk to Cotton about the theft in an attempt to recover the victim's engagement ring but she refused to cooperate with the investigation, police said.

"We were hoping to find some compassion in the suspect, hoping that she would at least help us locate and return the engagement ring to the young woman," San Leandro Police Lt. Isaac Benabou said in a statement.

Benabou said, "I have seen many theft suspects do what is right and return the property to the victims,but not Karen Cotton. This suspect showed no compassion or remorse for stealing the young woman's engagement ring."

Police said Cotton was booked into the San Leandro City Jail and will be arraigned next week.

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