A SIMPLE message on the inside of a long-lost diamond ring helped Ipswich police reunite the sentimental stone with its owner.
It had been nearly 12 years since Fred Daniel's old house in Perry St, Churchill was broken into and his personal items - including a ring given to him by his ex-wife for his 50th birthday - were stolen.
When the ring turned up in the dirt underneath a house in Thorn St, Ipswich, last month, Ipswich police officers Senior Constable Rachel Hofmeier, Constable Jonathan Jude and client service officer Tina Preston took on the job of finding out where it had come from.
Mr Daniel, now 69, said he recalled coming home one day to find that someone had broken in through his back door.
In addition to the birthday ring, his watch, a gold chain and two laptop computers were taken.
"The police caught the guy down the road and they got my watch back straight away," Mr Daniel said. "The ring was worth a lot of money but I'd pretty much let it go."
The nine-carat gold ring with a D-shaped diamond - thought to have been worth more than $1000 - carried a clue that proved the key for police.
Sen Const Hofmeier said the message "Happy 50th Fred 13/5/92" allowed her colleagues to start checking the QPrime system for 69-year-old men named Fred.
After finding Mr Daniel's full name and matching it with the date of birth on the ring, police started trying to match it with historic break and enter offences.
"A check of occurrences under his name revealed that he had a break and enter on December 9, 2000 and a number of items of jewellery were listed as stolen - including one matching the description of the located ring," Sen Const Hofmeier said.
The process of narrowing the search down to Mr Daniel took all of one hour, and police quickly found his latest address at Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane.
"It was a bit scary how quickly the police tracked me down - now I know I can't hide," Mr Daniel joked.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.