Gold and Silver • Gold coin collecting a deadly business as metals prices rise
Yesterday’s top story: Gold coin collecting a deadly business as metals prices rise
Criminal syndicates have discovered thefts of gold, silver and rare coins are far more lucrative and less risky. This to the detriment of coin dealers and coin collectors in North America and elsewhere.
Author: Dorothy Kosich
Posted: Tuesday , 12 Jun 2012
RENO (MINEWEB) –
As gold and silver prices have soared, thieves are now targeting rare coins, coin collections and rare coin dealers.
The Washington Post noted in a recent article, "Coin thieves are often part of organized rings, some from Colombia and others with ties to the Russian mafia, that orchestrate sophisticated, lightning-quick and sometimes ruthlessly violent heists, according to the Numismatic Crime Information Center."
Steve Ellsworth, a coin security expert, told the Post, "Why rob a bank with cameras, witnesses and a good chance your picture will end on up the evening news? Coin thefts often don’t have witnesses, and criminals can make off with far more money."
The FBI estimates only about 4% of stolen precious metals and jewelry is recovered annually.
In October 2009, coin collector and dealer Julian Leidman was having dinner after a Connecticut coin show when he became the victim of one of the biggest coin heists in U.S. history. Thieves smashed his car window and took at least five cases of coins containing more than 2,000 vintage coins and banknotes.
One of the coins taken-a 1921 Saint-Gaudens $20 gold piece-is valued at $160,000.
The stolen coins were sold for a total of $80,000 to Yan Kandinov, the son of a Diamond District jeweler, who then allegedly tried to sell the coins to a New Jersey coin dealer, who contacted the FBI. Kandinov turned over the collection, and pleaded guilty to receiving stolen goods.
However, some important pieces, including the 1921 Saint-Gaudens $20 gold piece, were still missing. Authorities went back to Kandinov, who later turned over additional coins that were stashed in the ceiling of his father’s store. Among those was the Saint-Gaudens gold piece.
On April 14 of this year, thieves stole a vintage coin and bank note collection from an elderly coin dealer, who had left his car in his driveway for only 10 minutes in Virginia. Detectives believe the elderly couple was followed home from a coin show by the thieves, and that the stolen items may resurface at a future coin show or be offered to collectors.
Miami Dade, Florida police are investigating last month’s theft of a large copper coin collection and other U.S. coins. The victim stopped after leaving a local coin show. Someone then broke into his vehicle and remove a briefcase containing the coins.
WILL MURDER FOR COINS
Five people were arrested in March in connection with the Gonzales, Louisiana, home invasion which resulted in the deaths of coin dealer Robert Marchand, his wife Shirley and her son Douglas Dooley. All three were discovered with their throats cut.
The suspects allegedly made away with $500,000 in coins that were locked away in a safe inside the home. The safe was found two days later in a park in Livingston Parish, with a single silver coin that still remained inside. Four of the suspects have been charged with murder, armed robbery and burglary.
Robert Marchand often showed his collection to relatives and friends, according to a family obituary.
Brooklyn, New York, coin dealer Steve Halfon was dragged out of his car near his coin shop on Kings Highway in Gravesend in August 2011. Three crooks beat him and dumped the unconscious Halfon about two blocks from his home. Halfon subsequently died from the beating.
On Dec, 1, 2011, two robbers waited for family members to return to their Richmond, Texas, home, tied them up, then put a gun in the mouth of a 12-year-old girl to force her father to tell them where his precious metals and cash were stored. The father is in the gold exchange business and the home invasion remains unsolved.
In December 1999, Jeannette Mestayer was found dead in her home in New Iberia, Louisiana. Her coin collection was missing. A decade later, her coin dealer, Ron Busby, was arrested and booked with one count of felony theft. But no one has been arrested and prosecuted for Mestayer’s murder.
This month Wayne Justice, proprietor of Justice Coins, in New Port Richey, Florida, shot a customer who had pulled a knife on him. The customer, Jacob Sanborn was on felony probation and died from the bullet in his chest.
In January of this year, thieves stole $130,000 in rare gold and silver coins from a New Brunswick, Canada, coin dealer at Toronto’s Pearson airport. The three suspects arrived in Canada from Bogota, Columbia.
On April 22, 2012, 600 2001 Silver Buffalo coins, half of which were uncirculated and the remainder were proof, were stolen in Wheeling, Illinois.
Coin theft is not only limited to break-ins. Former American Numismatic Association collections manager Wyatt Yeager was sentenced in April to 27 months in a federal prison and ordered to pay $948,505 in restitution for the theft of 300 historically significant coins and objects from the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Yeager sold the stolen coins at auctions in Australia, Germany, and in St. Louis, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, according to court records.
Meanwhile, six coins valued at $18,844 were stolen in June 2011 from the American Numismatic Association’s traveling exhibit on the "Money of the U.S. Civil War" at the St. Louis Museum of Transportation. It was the first theft in the history of the ANA traveling exhibits.
Ironically, the latest victims of coin theft appear to be Greeks who are withdrawing their money from Greek banks and stashing their savings at home. A number have converted their cash into gold. Police say the gangs who used to rob banks are now going after the homes of ordinary people, where there is far less risk.
Greece’s National Police spokesman Thanassis Kokklakis recently told Reuters that the unexpected bonanza is attracting foreign crime syndicates including two from the ex-Soviet state of Georgia, which are being blamed for 300 burglaries.
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:09 am
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