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Soaring gold prices trigger robberies

Aug 22, 2011 6:13:00 PM - thestate.com
That stunning rise in the price of gold is having a ripple effect: a rash of jewelry store robberies, street muggings and home burglaries. That’s led merchants to step up security and triggered warnings from police: Keep your bling to yourself.

“Don’t display your gold — it’s so valuable now,” said Capt. Mark Olvera, commander of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Division. “I saw a guy the other day, he had a huge chunk of gold around his neck. He looked like he could take care of himself. But that’s a couple thousand dollars he had on him. You’re making yourself a victim.”

So far this year, at least 110 people have had gold chains snatched from their necks during street robberies in South Los Angeles, Olvera said. Officers in his division are circulating fliers and showing up at churches and community centers to warn residents to stop wearing gold in public, or at least to tuck it under their clothes.

“It’s easy money. It’s easy to get, and it’s easy to get that gold fenced. You see all the ads, ‘We buy gold,’” Olvera said. “They sell it, melt it down, and there’s no regulation.”

Gold ended Monday just shy of a record $1,900 an ounce, nearly double its value two years ago. That’s made simple gold chains, watches and rings worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

USA, South Carolina: (Latest Stories)