CRIME

Coin thefts on the rise

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The rising price of gold and silver have coin collectors on alert. Thieves are preying on precious metals and cashing in on stolen goods.

Authorities say this isn't necessarily a new problem, but the problem is thieves are becoming more bold.

Julian Leidman learned that the hard way.

Leidman has been buying and selling coins since the 60s. He also knows firsthand how attractive they are to thieves.

"The crooks say alright we'll just wait for these guys to let their guards down, and that's what happened to me too," Leidman explained.

He was victim to one of the largest coin heists in recent U.S. history.

Thieves broke into his car after a collector show in 2009, stealing more than 2,000 vintage coins with a value of over $2 million.

Now, he does everything to safeguard his coin shop, Bonanza Coins, in Downtown Silver Spring.

Leidman said, "The glass, you can't break. We now have cameras. I have microphones."

The FBI reports only four percent of stolen precious metals and jewelry are recovered each year.  But, the problem is coins are hard to trace and are easily melted down.

Plus, gold values about $1,600 per ounce right now, tempting thieves even more.

"Everywhere you go now there's a "cash for gold" sign and everyone is trying to get in on it," said Sam Leidman, who also works at Bonanza Coins.

An elderly couple in Annadale had as much as $500,000 worth of rare coins and bank notes stolen from their car back in April.

Fairfax County Crime Solvers are still searching for a suspect.

Sam added, "If we know of a specific item that's been stolen, we try to keep our eye out for that."

Sam said just last week, he and his father helped catch a crook.

"Pulled footage from the cameras of the guy who brought it in and turned over to the police," Sam explained.

Julian added, "They're criminals. They're not necessarily killing coin collecting. They're just criminals."

The Leidmans say the best way to protect your valuables is to not tell people you have them. You should also keep your coins locked up in the bank.

Local police departments say they don't keep specific data on what's stolen from homes. They just track thefts in general.

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