Reward raised in courthouse gold theft case

John Bowman/GateHouse News Service
Prior to a Feb. 1, 2012 burglary, Siskiyou County's $3 million gold collection was proudly displayed at the courthouse entrance. It was the only known collection of its kind, and featured pieces from Siskiyou County mines.

A reward offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of two men involved in the Siskiyou County Courthouse gold theft case has been increased from $15,000 to $50,000.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors approved the increase unanimously on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at the request of Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey.

The historically significant gold was stolen from a display case inside the main entrance of the county courthouse in the early morning hours of Feb. 1. The thieves took only the largest nuggets, leaving behind many smaller pieces. The value of the stolen gold is approximately $1.25 million, though a final appraisal amount is still not certain.

Lopey told the supervisors the he had discussed the increase with his deputies, district attorney Kirk Andrus and County Administrator Tom Odom.

“We discussed using some of the funds from the [gold theft] insurance settlement,” Lopey said. “We don’t have a lot to lose because it would be predicated on the identification, arrest and conviction of the suspects,” he said, adding, “Perhaps this enhanced reward might generate some more promising investigative leads.”

Lopey said his department has followed up on more than 100 leads in the case but has yet to identify the suspects. He said the good news is that DNA samples were collected from the scene for both suspects involved.

“We are going to file a criminal complaint and get arrest warrants based on the DNA strands for both suspects,” Lopey said. “As soon as they come up in the system we will have an arrest warrant for them.”

District 5 Supervisor Marcia Armstrong told Lopey and the board she has spoken to a major west coast gold dealer who has agreed to list photos of the stolen gold in their catalog as well as notifying other dealers within their network to be on the lookout for the nuggets.

“I am very much in favor of this,” Armstrong said of the reward increase before the motion was passed.