Thar's Gold, Gold In Them Houses...

Lafayette police say there's a new gold rush on of sorts, and that burglars are mining local homes for riches.


Regular readers have commented on what may appear to be a recent surge in daylight residential burglaries around Lamorinda of late, with thieves going to homes, knocking to see if anyone is in -- and then kicking in the front door or going around the back to enter and help themselves to what's inside.

The most popular items on the burglar's shopping lists, according to police, are electronics and jewelry. The electronics are easily sold to ready buyers and the jewelry, especially gold, is fetching high prices at businesses seeking to acquire it.

"There is a terrible trend of residential burglaries where the crooks take the jewelry and sell it at the cash for gold places," Chief Eric Christensen wrote Monday. "There are a ton of these places and jewelry is the new prime target."

The chief is right. There are a lot of new businesses hoping to cash in on the sky-high price of gold, and buying everything from gold coins to grandma's antique locket.

And that, it seems, has added fuel to a new, underground market. Watch the attached video for a tutorial on how long it takes the new brand of daylight robber to enter a home, and know that along with your 48-inch big screen these guys are looking for easy-to-cart off, easy-to-sell gold and other precious metals.

"Need people to lock their jewelry up," Christensen warned. "While our burglary rate is still low, I hate people losing their family jewels to these people."

The Cash 4 Gold-type business has been around since the price of the yellow metal started to climb in the last few years, with more established firms offering mailers to customers who send in their unwanted jewelry for cash payments.

But the business model has come under scrutiny of late as state investigators have found examples of sellers being underpayed for their precious metals, and "waiting periods" intended to deter quick, unrecorded sales of gold jewelry are overlooked in favor of quick, unrecorded transactions.

El Cucuy September 18, 2012 at 05:32 PM
So is the burglary rate in Lamorinda actually any higher than in recent years -- or does it just seem like it?
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) September 18, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Chief Christensen assures us that it remains low and on pace with earlier years.
c5 September 18, 2012 at 08:16 PM
it seems there is a lot more visibility to the burglaries these days, which is a good thing as long as the rate of incidence is not accelerating. with a higher degree of awareness comes a higher degree of prevention, also a good thing. i know that our neighborhood had the police out to give us a crime prevention tutorial which for some of our neighbors was a real eye opener. we have dogs and an alarm system which we keep armed 100% of the time we are not home, plus keeping our doors and cars locked at all times...but it is really shocking to hear how lax and naive some otherwise really smart people are about their possessions. the problem is that the easier thieves believe it is in our town via some slackers, the worse it becomes for all of us. we need to make things hard enough that the bad guys go to other towns to try to wreak havoc.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) September 18, 2012 at 08:56 PM
I would suggest that the heightened "visibility" of these crimes may be due to the fact that they are frequently carried out in broad daylight, in the manner seen in the video - and with a kicked in front door instead of a stealthy raid conducted while the owner is away on vacation. Heightened chance of confrontation with a homeowner, a few chases as residents give pursuit, and more "visibility" perhaps.
Regular Guy September 18, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Exactly, J.D. The first time that one of these crimes ends in a death the visibility will be immense. It's going to happen sooner or later. I just hope it's the perpetrator who is killed, not the resident, even though the odds favor the perpetrator.
Adan Tejada September 19, 2012 at 02:27 PM
So... The way the Patch gets folks to click through the email to the scary story of door-kick burglaries is to show a picture of a Black guy at the door? Wow. I didn't see anything in the story to indicate a suspect description.
Chris Nicholson September 19, 2012 at 02:44 PM
It's a video, not just a picture. Watch it before playing the race card.
CJ September 19, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I have to wonder how this house was targeted? My guess is delivery guy makes legit ring/knock determines nobody is home. He probably has home phone so Perp is calling home at the door to make final verification nobody is home. No answer he kicks in the door. Reasonable? Isn't it odd the perp is on the phone at the door the entire time until the final second prior to kicking in the door? IMO- Uniformed delivery guy is a perp as well.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 19, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I thought the two guys were working together but that the uniform was a ruse so he wouldn't attract attention. Of course, it's LA so who knows.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Adan -- if you have video of people of a race more preferable to you, please feel free to upload it. This one was chosen because it demonstrates the issue we were addressing in the story. And, yes, it's a video... we thought in interesting in the way this pair executed the break-in.
Nicholas September 19, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Huge fail. Play race card - swing - MISS.
Adan Tejada September 19, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I'm commenting on what I see in my email. You can minimize it by using a catch phrase ("playing the race card"), but the fact remains that in a largely white community, putting that image into the email is inflammatory. When I clicked through from my email on my phone, there was no video link -- so I couldn't watch it. Reading these comments, I clicked through from a desktop, and so I see your point. Again, mine was based upon the email I received.
Chris Nicholson September 19, 2012 at 04:25 PM
@Adan: if the truth is inflammatory, should we avoid the truth?
SevenMary7 September 19, 2012 at 04:36 PM
(In my best Jack Nicholson impression): You can't handle the truth! Adan is explaining himself and I get what he's? saying but a video of two people breaking into a home should be taken at face value for what it is. It's how it is done, yes by white guys and black guys and brown guys and green guys... and gals, just tomake sure everyone is covered. Feel better? If it were my home the issue would not be that two black guys had forced their way inside, it would be that two guys forced their way in and ripped me off. The race thing is a sideshow. Broad daylight robberies of this sort are happening more and more because the crooks know most people out here work, that there's little chance anyone will stop them (though the local coppers are doing a good job) and because people here have good stuff. That's it. Protect it if you want to keep it otherwise just walk down the street and hand it to your local meth head.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 19, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I don't understand how it's inflammatory. The black community may represent a disproportionate percentage of the prison population but this in no way means that the majority of black people commit crimes. Just because you see a black person in the video doesn't mean it's representative of all black people. If you understand that reality, the video isn't inflammatory. It simply shows a common home burglary practice.
Chris Nicholson September 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM
The only real inflammation is the hypersensitized Pavlovian PC response to any data that is directionally consistent with stereotypes. Objective neutrality is not good enough. Only counter-stereotypical depictions and affirmative action are acceptable. If you drink this kool-aid, the truth must be filtered and spun to avoid the perpetuation of bias. "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." This has been the prevailing framework for half a century. Whether it was ever useful can be debated (I think it was, for a time), but its prospective utility is clearly suspect and, I would argue, is potentially harmful to those it once sought to help.
Brad Katkowsky September 19, 2012 at 06:52 PM
People who call a videotaped burglary inflammatory and biased against the perpetrators would also have us believe that car thieves and carjackers don't wear hoodies or masks and that those articles of clothing unfairly brand people who wear them as potential car thieves or carjackers.... that illegal immigration is not a criminal act and does not contribute to further criminal activity.... and that our penal system is only designed to persecute minorities and does nothing to deter crime. I would argue otherwise. But then I live in the real world.
David Griest September 24, 2012 at 04:12 AM
We also were hit on Friday Morning. We live in the Bluffs. They cleaned us out of all electronics and various other personal items. Use your locks and arm your alarms folks. They are brazin enough to break through the gate at our driveway and help themselves.
James Newsome April 02, 2013 at 03:32 PM
For the person who said this was a racist representation: PC has turned your mind into mush.
Napoleon Solo April 02, 2013 at 04:03 PM
San Francisco Chronicle (sfgate.com) is reporting that Lafayette police shot a suspect today. There are no details but maybe that ties into this burglary story somehow.
Nicholas April 02, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Napoleon --- these guys have been on it since this morning. Sounds like it may be another one like the walnut creek shooting http://news24-680.com/lamorinda-news/police-fire/breaking-man-shot-in-lafayette-police-surround-house


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