PROSPECT — Edward Rynkowsky served two tours of duty in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard, starting as a platoon leader and winning a promotion to captain. He led troops in combat and was decorated with two Bronze Stars for valor, as well as multiple patches and “excellence” coins, which he said are irreplaceable.
But last spring, after his return from the war, his home was broken into and his war medals were stolen. The thief also used material stolen in the break-in to steal Rynkowsky’s identity.
To make matters worse, Rynkowsky’s uncle now has been charged in thefts.
On Monday, Edward Jones, 54, of 23 Lovers Lane, Monroe, was arraigned in court on charges that he broke into Rynkowsky’s home last April. In addition to taking the medals, Jones is accused of using personal documents to steal his nephew’s identity and raid his bank account. He is facing 146 charges, including 64 counts of sixth-degree larceny and 64 counts of illegal use of a credit card.
Police said items taken in the burglary also included Rynkowsky’s Eagle Scout badge, two safes, a .40-caliber pistol and personal documents.
Rynkowsky, who is 27, said Monday he has not been able to recover any of the stolen items. He said he is still hoping to have his medals returned.
“(The awards) were pretty significant to me,” he said. “It’s something you would want to show your grandkids someday.”
The thefts happened during a rough patch for Rynkowsky. His mother passed away in January, and his father had just had quadruple bypass surgery, he said.
“It’s one thing after another,” Rynkowsky said. “I had to divert a lot of my attention to protecting myself. Luckily, some of the precautionary measures I took led me to realize what was happening to my identity and I was able to forward that information to police.”
Rynkowsky said he was out of town caring for his father when the burglary occurred. Several neighbors reported seeing two men loading boxes into a beige van, police said, and later picked Jones out of a photo lineup.
Rynkowsky told police his uncle has a drug problem, according to court documents.
In subsequent months, Rynkowsky learned that $7,250 had been taken from his bank account and a credit card had been taken out in his name. Police said about $8,000 was charged to the card.
On Sept. 24, Jones was arrested by state police. He is being held on $20,000 bond for a court date on Oct. 21.