A Los Angeles-based pawnshop has decided to return a 24-karat Rolex watch pawned by a thief who violently robbed an Asian man in 2019 to its original owner.
The violent roadside beating and robbery occurred in Henderson, Nevada, on Oct. 19, 2019, when the suspect, Robert E. Pearce, 39, struck Hasin Oh on the head, arms and body, according to NBC Los Angeles‘ Eric Leonard.
His wife, Myungja Oh, also suffered injuries to her legs after she tried to intervene.
The suspect fled with the man’s 24-karat gold watch gifted to Hasin by his three children for his 75th birthday.
The gift also symbolizes his accomplishment immigrating to the United States from South Korea in 1975 with only a few hundred dollars in his pocket.
“We were thinking it was going to be the start of our family heirloom,” the couple’s daughter, Sumee Oh, said about the watch.
Investigators discovered and analyzed fingerprints that belonged to Pearce. They also found out the suspect pawned the watch for $16,000 at an LA-based pawnshop called Mr. Steven’s Pawn Shop.
The suspect who pawned the watch left an electronic thumbprint at the store during the transaction, and it matched the same one they gathered from the couple’s car.
Henderson PD Detective Nathan Calvano submitted an arrest warrant affidavit to Clark County District Attorney’s Office after the discovery.
However, the pawnshop reportedly sent a letter to the Oh family, demanding they pay the money loaned to Pearce in 2019 to get the watch back.
The only way for the Oh family to get the watch back was to have Pearce prosecuted. The suspect, however, died while trying to escape authorities during his arrest in January.
LAPD-FBI fugitive task force officers went to Pearce’s apartment on Sunset Boulevard near North Cherokee Avenue after acquiring an arrest warrant on Jan. 27.
“Pearce was seen climbing over the railing where he tried to move down to a lower balcony located one floor below,” an LAPD detective said, adding that he “lost his grip and fell approximately five stories landing on the south sidewalk of Sunset Boulevard.”
The suspect died two hours later in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Without prosecution, the judge could not order the watch to be returned to the Oh family.
Sumee Oh was infuriated by the pawnshop owner’s refusal to return an item that was stolen by a man who attacked her parents.
“It was directly from the man that, you know, beat my father unconscious and caused my mom to suffer a lifelong injury,” she said. “Being made whole, or you know, restitution should be from the deceased, from the criminal that victimized Mr. Steve’s and us.”
The pawnshop initially agreed to give back the watch to the Oh family if they would allow a claim against its insurance policies. However, things changed on Monday when the store’s attorney said the owner gave the case a lot of consideration and decided to return the watch to the family with no other conditions.
A representative for the pawnbroker pointed out that the store was also a victim in this incident and that the watch may have never been recovered if sold by other means.
Feature Image via NBC Los Angeles