West Point graduate's ring returned to owner after theft

Crook caught after breaking into locker at Indianwood Golf Club

Author: Shawn Ley, Local 4 Reporter, @ShawnLeyLive, sley@wdiv.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:14:50 AM EST   Updated On: Oct 07 2013 05:57:22 PM EDT
LAKE ORION, Mich. -

When a ring given to a West Point graduate disappeared this past August, Ben Hockenberry feared he'd never see it again.

The ring was stolen along with credit cards and other items from Hockenberry's locker Iandianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion.

"I'm proud of it," said Hockenberry who got some surprising help in getting back his treasure.

He's saluting the detective work by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office and by Northville Township Police.

The West Point graduate found his locker broken into on August 23rd, "I didn't know what to think, it was very unexpected," Hockenberry said.

Hockenberry was just one of the many victims of Matthew Ward Phelan, say police. Phelan, is accused of breaking into lockers at golf courses all over the area and stealing wallets, watches and rings.

In this case, the break in happened just after 10 a.m. and by 10:50 investigators say Phelan was at a Meijer using Hockenberry's stolen credit cards to buy gift cards.

The crook also took Hockenberry's wedding ring along with his West Point class ring.

The Oakland County Sheriff's investigators teamed up with detectives from Northville Township and Phelan was caught in the act.

Everything the man allegedly stole from Hockenberry including his watch, credit cards and wedding ring were all gone.

But, Phelan still had the victim's West Point ring. Investigators spoke with Phelan and his lawyer to get the ring back.

"It's a connection, it's a connection to the past it's a connection to the future, to all of the people who have served and all the academy graduates," Hockenberry said while explaining what the ring represents.