October 6, 2016 – On August 27, 2016 Thomas Gintz, owner of A&E Coin in Dover , Ohio had attended the Blue Ridge Numismatic Association coin show in Dalton, GA. After leaving the show he drove approximately 150 miles and stopped at a restaurant in Lenoir City, TN. Gintz was in the restaurant for approximately 20-30 minutes. Upon returning to his truck he found that his vehicle had been burglarized and over $66,000 in coins had been stolen. The Lenoir City Police Department was called to the scene and a report was filed.
Several days later, Gintz contacted Doug Davis Founder/President of the Numismatic Crime Information Center providing details of the offense and a description of the stolen coins. NCIC assists dealers, collectors and law enforcement during the investigation of numismatic crimes and maintains a network of over 5,000 dealers nationally and internationally. NCIC also tracks offenses and evaluates trends, patterns or similarities between those offenses and/or possible suspects.
Based upon the information provided by Gintz, contact was made with the Lenoir City Police Department in TN. Davis talked with Investigator Brad Brown, the lead investigator, and a review of the case was conducted. On August 31, 2016 upon the request of Investigator Brown an NCIC email crime alert was prepared and sent out to the NCIC network which included a list of stolen coins.
Two days later Davis received a call from a dealer in TN who advised he had seen the NCIC alert at a local coin shop in Chattanooga, TN and that he had purchased coins that matched the list. The coins were purchased from a subject in Chattanooga, TN. Davis made contact with Investigator Brown and advised him of the current lead in the case. Investigator Brown immediately contacted the dealer and through his efforts over $36,000 in coins was recovered. Investigator Brown determined through his investigation that the dealer had bought coins from the suspect, who he had met at the Marietta coin show prior to the incident and was later contacted by him right after the Dalton show.
“NCIC was already comparing other reported vehicle burglaries that had occurred from Washington State to Massachusetts during the past 12-16 months to determine any similarities”, Davis said.
During the on-going investigation Davis was contacted by Dale Schiman, an Arizona dealer, who had attended the Long Beach, CA coin show on Sept 10, 2016. After leaving the show Schiman traveled to San Diego and was the victim of a vehicle burglary resulting in the loss of over $50,000 in coins. On September 13, 2016 Davis sent out an NCIC crime alert.
On September 14, 2016 Davis received a call from Investigator Brown who advised that he had received a call from the TN dealer, who informed him that he was re-contacted by the suspect and they had a large number of coins for sale. Investigator Brown requested that the dealer try to set up a meeting with the suspects. The suspects agreed to meet at the same location in Chattanooga, TN where the initial coins were purchased.
Although the meeting location was out of his county, Investigator Brown’s supervisors authorized him to contact Chattanooga PD and coordinate a sting with the assistance of the dealer. Brown was successful in setting up the sting and requested that Davis be available by phone to assist in evaluating any coins that may be recovered.
On September 15, 2016 Investigator Brown along with Chattanooga PD officers successfully conducted a sting operation that resulted in the arrest of two suspects and the seizure of thousands of dollars in coins. Brown contacted Davis by phone and advised him that the coins seized did not appear to have come from the offense that occurred in Lenoir City, TN. Davis requested Brown to send him photos of the coins via phone. After review of the coins Davis had a hunch the coins seized were similar to those stolen in San Diego.
Davis made contact with Dale Schiman by phone and requested additional information regarding price coding on the slabs or dealer codes on any raw coins. After talking with Schiman, Davis was able to determine that several of the coins seized were from the San Diego offense.
The suspects arrested were identified as Oscar Cruz and Harold Diaz. Cruz was identified by a Texas driver’s license and Diaz was identified by a Columbian passport. Both subjects were transported to the Chattanooga police department.
Based upon evidence recovered at the scene Investigator Brown was able to connect the suspects to both offenses. “Knowing that the suspects traveled across the United States and out of the country several times a year is important as NCIC evaluates similar unsolved cases”, said Davis.
“The aggressive approach to this investigation by Investigator Brown and the Lenoir City Police Department , the cooperation of the dealer in TN, Chattanooga PD and the collaboration with NCIC was the key to the success in the arrests and the recovery of property in these offenses”, Davis said.
Collectors and dealers are encouraged to visit NumismaticCrimes.org and sign up for the free email crime alerts. The success of numismatic crime investigations is dependent upon the coordinated efforts between dealers, collectors, law enforcement and the Numismatic Crime Information Center.
This is the website of the Numismatic Crime Information Center.