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Jeweler is victim of theft during Tarpon Springs festival

TARPON SPRINGS — For 40 years, John Mroczek has been creating silver and gold jewelry embedded with stones, from diamonds and pearls to emeralds. For a decade, he and his wife, Denise, who live near South Bend, Ind., have sold his jewelry at the annual Tarpon Springs Fine Arts Festival in Craig Park.

After the first day of this year's festival, April 5, John and his son stowed the merchandise in a large compartment inside their Honda Odyssey. They spent the night at a friend's house in Tarpon Springs, Denise said.

When they opened the compartment in the morning, half the jewelry — roughly $45,000 worth — was gone.

John called police.

There was no forced entry into the Honda, which is equipped with a double security system.

"How they got in? I have no idea," Denise said. "I would just love to know who and how."

Tarpon Springs Detective Cpl. John Diebel said the department has no leads in the case. They are waiting for the Mroczeks to send a list of the missing jewelry pieces so they can check pawnshops. Officers also recovered fingerprints from the scene that will be analyzed.

Besides the jewelry, about $2,800 in checks, cash and debit card slips was stolen, Denise said. She's worried that customers' personal information is now compromised.

Since John returned to Indiana last week, he has been busy rebuilding his jewelry collection.

"He designs and makes everything himself," Denise said. "We'll survive."

The Mroczeks ask customers who think they may have purchased jewelry with a debit card April 5 at the festival to contact them at

Laura C. Morel can be reached at or (727) 445-4157. Follow on Twitter @lauracmorel.