On April 2 the Numismatic Crime Information Center and several dealers in the Los Angeles area were instrumental in assisting the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in an arrest and recovery of $95,000 in Chinese gold coins, said NCIC.
Detective Lord with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department contacted NCIC at Numismaticcrimes.org and requested assistance on an individual attempting to pawn six 1921 China Republic $1 gold coins for $20,000 apiece. Doug Davis, founder and president of NCIC, contacted Lord by phone and offered the group’s services. While on the phone, Lord and other officers had the suspect under surveillance. He advised Davis that they were in the process of taking down the suspect and would need assistance in identifying the coins. The suspect was arrested and the coins confiscated.
Lord forwarded pictures of the coins to Davis. They were housed in plastic 2x2 holders and had stickers imprinted with a number and the name “Sotheby’s” on the outside. Concerned about the authenticity of the coins, Davis contacted Professional Numismatists Guild dealer Robert Van Bebber to assist investigators. The coins were taken to Van Bebber and after examination he validated the authenticity of the coins. In addition, contact was made with Sotheby’s, which identified the coins as being those sold in a 1986 auction.
Although there had been an arrest and the coins recovered, no victim had been identified. Davis contacted several dealers in the southern California area who specialize in world coins to determine the potential identity of the victim. No one could provide any information on the offense. During the course of the investigation, an informant advised investigators that the suspect had burglarized several businesses in the Los Angeles area and showed them the locations. Investigators contacted one of the business owners, who identified the coins. The victim had bought the coins for $25,000 in a 1986 Sotheby’s auction and did not know they had been stolen.
“This is the first case we have investigated involving coins, and the resources provided by the Numismatic Crime Information Center were invaluable in the successful conclusion,” said Lord. “The suspect, a known felon, was charged with several burglaries and faces life in prison.”
“The [NCIC] commends the cooperation and collaboration of each coin dealer who assisted during the investigation of this numismatic crime,” said Davis.
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