Thieves in northern California made off with millions of dollars in gold from a local courthouse, and a Los Angeles gold buyer said their timing was impeccable.
"It’s the best time someone could’ve stolen a lot of gold, I guess," Matt Carmody, owner of the Diamond and Gold Exchange in Santa Monica, said, referring to the sky-rocketing value of gold.
When Carmody started his business in 2008, gold was selling at just under $800 per ounce. Four years later, the commodity rakes in more than twice that much – selling at about $1,750 per ounce.
Two suspects, described only as white men in their 30s, reportedly broke into the gold case housed in the Siskiyou County Courthouse lobby around 1:00 a.m. Wednesday, according to county sheriffs.
Surveillance video showed the men using a metal bar on what was supposed to be unbreakable glass. Yreka authories have posted a $15,000 reward in the case.
The total value of what was taken was still being calculated, but initial estimates quoted the loot at about $3 million, according to Siskiyou County Treasurer Wayne Hammer.
Gold have always been an expensive commodity, but it’s sale has never been as lucrative as it now, Carmody said. Gold reached an all-time high of about $1,900 per ounce in August 2011.
The dwindling dollar is to thank for the modern-day gold rush, he said. As the price of the dollar goes down, the value of gold, called a safe haven for investors, rises.
"Gold is suddenly more attractive," Carmody said. "It sounds like the ultimate robbery where someone was thinking big."
But the Yreka thieves will have their work cut out for them.
Strict rules require gold buyers to wait 35 days before their sell a piece. In the meantime, the seller’s personal information and thumb print are sent to the local police to check and file.
Gold nuggets are a rare sight to see at gold-buying stores, Carmody said. Usually pure gold is in the form of a bar, and the largest nuggets he’s seen have been the size of a fingertip.
Selling $3 million of gold nuggets would require breaking up the pot and selling it piecemeal, he said.
But even then, red flags would go up.
"We do have our radars up, because if we accidently bought something stolen, we have to return it to police," Carmody said. "So, we would still loose."
As the poor economy leaves more Americans hard-pressed for cash, the gold business is booming.
"A little gold goes a long way," Carmody said.
Siskiyou sheriffs reprimanded the suspects in a press release, claiming they "stole a piece of our Siskyou County history."
Gold was first discovered in the Yreka area in 1851, and shortly thereafter more than 2,000 miners were combing the area, according to county documents. Millions of dollars in gold have been retrieved from the rocky rivers and streams that flow through the county.
Officials promises to "not rest until the perpetrators are identified and held to answer for their crimes," and said they were developing promising leads.