Prosecutor in burglary case arranging for return of stolen items

The state is taking steps to return about $200,000 worth of stolen jewelry and antiques to homeowners in the Lyme and Old Lyme area even though the court cases of two accused burglars and the jeweler who allegedly bought the stolen items are unresolved.

Superior Court prosecutor David J. Smith is asking attorneys for Justin P. Weissinger and Karl W. Weissinger and Mystic jeweler Matthew L. Hopkins to see if their clients will stipulate to using pictures of the stolen goods as evidence so that the property can be returned to its owners.

Justin Weissinger, 26, and Karl Weissinger, 22, of Lyme are accused of breaking into six homes in Lyme, two in Old Lyme and one in Chester in late 2011 and early 2012 and stealing high-end jewelry, precious metals and antiques. Hopkins, owner of Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. in Mystic, is charged with larceny by possession for allegedly buying about $200,000 worth of stolen items from the two brothers, who he said told him they were from storage unit auctions.

Smith, the prosecutor, said that if all three defendants stipulate to using so-called secondary evidence, the items, which are in state police possession, will be catalogued and photographed and returned to their rightful owners. The photographs and other information will then be used as evidence as the criminal cases proceed to plea deals or trials.

A few of the burglary victims have been attending court appearances in the case and have expressed interest in having their property returned as soon as possible.

“This case has been going on a while,” said Judge Hillary B. Strackbein said Wednesday during Justin Weissinger’s court appearance. “The victims really deserve to have these things back.”

The older Weissinger brother, who is being held in lieu of $550,100 at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, stipulated to the use of the photographs after speaking with his attorney, John Franckling.

Smith said he would be contacting attorneys for Karl Weissinger and Hopkins, both of whom are free on bond and have upcoming court appearances.

k.florin@theday.com

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