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.