ATHENS, Tenn. (WVLT) -- One by one, people filed into the McMinn County Sheriff's Office, hoping to find jewelry stolen from their homes. Thieves took Heather Henry's jewelry box in 2011. It was full of sentimental items.
"Class rings, some jewelry that my grandmother had passed down to my children, my grandmother had passed down to me," said Henry.
They took Jan Carter's wedding ring, along with several necklaces and bracelets.
"I'm in the insurance business and I've learned that sometimes things do turn up - people find them two or three years later," said Jan Carter.
About two weeks ago, deputies arrested Kim Sharp in her Niota home. There they found all of the jewelry, along with guns and pills.
Turns out, Sharp was running a jewelry for pain pills operation out of her house. Thieves would bring her everything from necklaces, rings and earrings and in exchange, she'd give them pain pills like Oxycontin and Oxycodone.
Most of the collection is costume jewelry, but even so, it has sentimental value and that's irreplaceable.
"We found a pair of Tennessee earrings that I'd bought for my daughter," said Henry.
Eunice Brakebill found her earrings, too:
"They were a gift to me some years back for Christmas," said Brakebill.
No luck on the wedding band, class rings or the ruby and pearl necklace Brakebill was hoping to find, but even so, deputies are happy to return what they can and have some tips to keep your jewelry safe in the future:
"Not to keep jewelry in jewelry boxes. Items like rings, earrings, gold, diamonds, anything like that shouldn't be kept in a jewelry box. If you're not wearing it, put it in an inconspicuous place in your house. Somewhere somebody wouldn't look," said Chief Deputy Matt Blair.
He said it's also important to take pictures of your jewelry, so you'll have a record of it if it's stolen.
Sharp faces a variety of drug and stolen property charges. She's in jail under a $61,000 bond.