An Arlington woman and her husband are behind bars, accused of stealing thousands of pins worth $400,000 from a sorority's headquarters where she worked.
At first glance, the pin may not look like much – to the Tri Delta Sorority, it’s a symbol of their sisterhood and legacy. Each time a member dies, their pin is returned to Tri Delta’s National Headquarters in Arlington, where it’s preserved.
Unfortunately, not everyone values the pins that same way, police said.
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“They’re all gold and they have precious or semi-precious stones, so they do have value,” said Sgt. Jeff Houston with the Arlington Police Department. “When you have thousands of them, the value goes up quickly.”
When the sorority did a routine inventory of its storage area at the end of February, it learned 2,000 pins -- worth an estimated $400,000 – were missing.
Arlington police launched an investigation that led them to Tri Delta employee Carla Seals.
“It was just the great work of the detectives that put them onto the suspect,” said Houston.
Police believe Seals helped her husband, Mark Stroface, break into a secure area inside the building where the pins were kept.
Officers arrested the pair Wednesday night on charges of theft greater than $200,000. Bond was set for each of them at $100,000.
Police said they’ve only been able to recover a few hundred of the missing pins and are continuing to look for more.
“If we can recover them all, that would be the best thing,” said Houston.
A spokesperson for Tri Delta was out of the office and unavailable for an interview Thursday.
In a statement posted to the Tri Delta website, sorority president Phyllis Durbin Grissom thanked police for “resolving this matter quickly” and said “strengthened security measures and dual controls are being put into place regarding access to the building and the location of badges and heirloom jewelry.”
She also expressed “deep sadness” that one their employees may have been involved.
Tri Delta said Seals has been placed on immediate leave without pay, pending the outcome of court proceedings. Although Seals is an employee at the national headquarters, she was not a member of the sorority.