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Lost and Stolen SpecimensGold specimens stolen from West Coast Gem & Mineral Show

15th Nov 2016 20:21 GMTJolyon Ralph Founder

Following message from Dona Leicht at Kristalle


This past weekend we were working a show at the Holiday Inn in Santa Ana, California (West Coast Gem and Mineral Show). Our show space is a separate meeting room (Irvine Room) which we set up on Thursday. A hotel maintenance man installed a new lock on the only door and gave us what he said were "the only keys (4)" to the room. We left at 6pm on Saturday, November 12 and returned at 8:30 am Sunday morning, November 13. The door was LOCKED and Wayne used his key to open as usual. Sometime durng the night the room was entered (no signs of forced entry at the door or windows) and approximately 60 small to miniature gold specimens were stolen from a locked display case on a table. We had taken all of the larger golds home with us each nightl. The labels were left behind and nothing else in the room was disturbed, except for my new MacBookPro which was also taken. We believe this is an 'inside job' at the hotel and the specimens will no doubt be sent off to a refiner for meltdown to recover the gold value. We estimate that the most they are likely to get would be $8,000 - $10,000 since these were all well crystallized specimens and not much weight. There are a dozen of the new Brazilian golds, and the rest are from the Oriental Mine and the Eagle's Nest Mine. We did the one thing we should not have done and that was trusting that the locks and roaming security would protect us - lesson learned at a very high cost. We are offering a reward for information leading to the return of the specimens. Contact Dona at for more information on the police case number, police contact, etc. Should anyone be offered these specimens, please try to take possession of them, detain the individual, get names if possible and call the police immediately. We are still working on the 'inside job' theory because we cannot imagine that a member of our collecting community would be so evil, but perhaps that is another lesson we will learn. Thanks to all of you over the years who have given us such pleasure and support - that means more than any loss we have now.

1st Dec 2016 16:15 GMTBob Harman

I pulled up this thread from several weeks ago as looking thru old Min Recs shows Dona Leicht of Kristalle reported a rather similar major theft of gold specimens and jewelry ("from their vault") in the March - April 1998 issue (vol 29 no.2 page 82).

At times, law enforcement investigators take these "coincidentally similar" crimes with more than passing interest. CHEERS......BOB

As an addendum, the Santa Ana law enforcement authorities have been contacted and made aware of the 1998 incident.

1st Dec 2016 22:06 GMTDavid Von Bargen Manager

Unfortunately gold is probably one of the few specimens that the run of mill thieves would recognise as being valuable. They can be melted down and sold at many places for their bullion value. One of the dangers of being a mineral dealer handling gold specimens.

3rd Dec 2016 03:41 GMTJim Allen

Calling these two crimes "coincidentally similar" is just silly. Two thefts is hardly a crime wave, And there is nothing suspiciously "coincidental" about internationally-known dealers in specimen gold twice, in 18 years, being victims of theft of gold specimens. The similarity between the two crimes also escapes me--one from their vault, the other from a hotel.

Idle speculation in unhelpful, and certainly unfair to the Leichts. I wish them the best.

15th Jan 2017 19:08 GMTWayne C. Leicht

I sincerely hope that Bob is not suggesting that this theft was planned - we do not willingly give up nearly $250,000 worth of gold specimens and incidentally, there is NO insurance to cover any of this. Our insurance only covers us if there is a theft at the shop or in transit. The police are fairly certain that it was an inside job with a hotel employee. Some have suggested that it was someone in the business but we don't even want to go there - that would be a double whammy. Thus far, nothing has surfaced with any of the refiners, pawn shops, dealers, etc. within a 50 mile radius. My computer is also out there somewhere, but Apple has a block on it so if it is turned on we should receive a text with its location.

Bob's comments are hurtful and as Jim said, unhelpful.

12th Dec 2018 16:14 GMTDona Leicht

We still have inquiries as to what we know about this theft - we are fairly certain it was one or more of the hotel employees. The stolen computer was tracked from Santa Ana to Laguna Niguel, to Redlands and then to Hermisillo, Mexico. The police were not interested. We are fairly certain the specimens were melted and sold for the little gold value versus the collector value.
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