Coin collection worth $70K stolen in Daly City 

After $70,000 of rare coins were stolen in a brazen Saturday morning robbery, a Daly City man says he will abandon the precious metal hobby.

Police say sometime between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on March 24, as Sunil Patel was out with his children, someone kicked in the back door of his Daly City home and stole between $50,000 to $70,000 in gold and platinum coins from boxes he had hidden in drawers.

Patel said he had been a stamp collector before and only in 2004 had begun collecting coins — a practice that has caught on in recent years because of the rising value of precious metals — as a hobby and an investment.

The burglar or burglars also took his children’s video game equipment and some socks, he said, noting he was not sure if he was targeted because of his collection.

"I’m new to the game. What can you say? When you get hit, you get hit," Patel said. Not wanting to get into the specifics of his coins, he said they were "liberty coins," a generic term for valuable U.S. coins.

"I’m pretty depressed about the loss," Patel said. "After this, I think you can forget it."

Sgt. Ron Mussman of Daly City police said detectives were investigating the robbery.

Rare coin collecting is a multibillion-dollar industry these days, said Ron Mirr, the owner of the Richmond, Va.-based Liberty Coins. A recent coin auction in Florida saw a total of $85 million worth of business done, an attribution to the strength, popularity and wealth available in the rare coin industry, Mirr said.

Many recent collectors start out collecting quarters for each of the country’s 50 states and move on from there, Mirr said. The growth of satellite networks and Web sites such as eBay, an auction Web site, has also helped spur interest in the practice, he said.

Allen Notowitz, president of Numis International, a bullion and coin dealership in Millbrae, said the weakness of the U.S. dollar has had people looking to invest in gold because the price of the most precious metal has roughly doubled in the last two years, from $320 per ounce to $660 per ounce.

"When the dollar keeps going down that makes gold more valuable," Notowitz said, noting that the U.S.’s trade imbalance is contributing to the weak dollar.

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