The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 8, February 19, 2006, Article 27


Regarding the recent reports of strong-arm robberies of people
returning from major coin shows, retired LAPD officer Alan V.
Weinberg writes:

"One thing is for certain. Given the successful number of thefts
and robberies, the thieves and robbers will be back next year in

While there is little to protect a dealer who travels 100 miles
away before he is robbed, there are certain things he can do to
minimize his exposure.

First, the more expensive items like a $10,000 note or a $4 Stella
should be carried in the dealer's pockets when driving home. The
robbers and thieves almost always want to avoid personal contact
- speed and surprise is their mode of operation.

Secondly, a briefcase holding the more valuable items can be
concealed in the car's spare tire wheel well - leave the spare
tire at home. So if the trunk is popped or the dealer is robbed,
all the thieves will get is what is momentarily visible. They'll
miss anything in the wheel well.

[I might add that it couldn't hurt to include a decoy briefcase,
perhaps containing junk-filled cardboard coin boxes or PCGS
plastic boxes.  Thinking it to be loaded with coins, the thieves
might choose it over another case. Ideally, the decoy briefcase
should closely resemble one carried at the show, perhaps a twin
of the one hidden in the wheel well.  -Editor]

Third, upon leaving the show, drive directly to the nearest
sheriff or police station and into their parking lot. Stay there
for 10 minutes or so. The thieves who are following you will not
loiter around in such circumstances.

Fourth, carry a digital camera on the front seat or in your pocket
and snap away like mad at the thieves and their vehicle so you have
a documented history of the robbery for the police and your
insurance company.

Fifth, if your tire blows out or a mechanical failure occurs with
the car en route home from the coin show, keep driving until you
arrive at a heavily-populated location like a supermarket parking
lot, right in front of the market entrance.  The odds of a legitimate
problem occurring with your car are miniscule - the thieves could
have punctured or shot out your tire or radiator and are waiting
for you to stop.

Sixth, although this may sound silly, all occupants of your car
should make a restroom visit before leaving the show and driving
home so there is one less reason to make a stop en route. Also,
leave the show with a tank full of gas - gas up the night before,
not on the way home.  Don't stop for food or drink, either. Be
prepared the night before or the morning of departure.

Seventh, carry a loaded handgun under the seat or floor mat or
in your pocket (not the glove box) and know how and when to use
it. A handgun in your briefcase is useless when it is needed

[Alan's tips are welcome, although number seven is clearly
controversial.  Each person must decide for themselves what
tradeoffs to make and which risks to take.  -Editor]

Alan adds: "It is a misdemeanor to be caught carrying a loaded
gun in your vehicle in many states ... not so in other states
like Texas. That is specifically why I said not to carry it in
the glove box in case you get stopped for a traffic violation
and have to give the vehicle registration in the glove box to
the police.

Many dealers already carry a pistol in their briefcase - I've
seen it at shows often ... but it is not readily accessible
in a street vehicle robbery.

It's a war out there and with their current success, you can
bet the thieves will be back again - in greater numbers and
acting ever more aggressively. Law enforcement is not likely
to charge the coin dealer with a misdemeanor for defending his
merchandise.  In most cases, should the police officer stopping
you spot the gun, but see the merchandise you are carrying and
hear your explanation for carrying a loaded firearm, he or she
will ignore the gun and the misdemeanor.

Remember, I worked LA's mean streets for 20+ yrs and know
hundreds of other officers who did the same and know how they
think and operate. A reasonable explanation coupled with the
right attitude will serve the coin dealer well.

But if the gun is adequately concealed under the driver's car
seat or under either side front floor rug, there's no reason
for a traffic stop to reveal the gun at all."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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