Thieves strike coin shop during blizzard

Burglars took advantage of last week's snowstorm to break into a St. John's coin dealership.
A thief was caught on camera breaking into East Coast Coins on Jan. 6, around 9:30 p.m. (Courtesy Rod O'Driscoll )

Burglars took advantage of last week's snowstorm to break into a St. John's coin dealership.

Rod O'Driscoll said he got a call Jan. 10 that the security alarm at his store — East Coast Coins — was set off around 11 p.m., during the height of the blizzard.

Thieves made off with a 140-kilogram safe. O'Driscoll said the crooks must have assumed it contained gold.

"When they came in and took the safe, there was no gold in the safe, no gold jewelry," he said.

"We suspect that's what they wanted, but they got a very extensive collection of Newfoundland coins, Canadian bank notes, and Canadian silver coins."

O'Driscoll said the contents of the safe, which are traceable, are worth about $50,000.

"These were collector items, which are pretty much useless on the market unless you're selling to a collector," he said.

O'Driscoll said at least two people would have been involved in the robbery.

"The safe was dragged from the store — we saw drag marks, the steps were damaged, and it looks like they dragged it down the stairs," he said.

Witnesses spotted a vehicle on Tupper Street, near the store in the city's east end, during the blizzard.

"At that time of the evening, there was no traffic moving anywhere," he said.

Possible connected incident

East Coast Coins was also a target a few days before the blizzard break-in, and O'Driscoll said there's no doubt in his mind that the incidents are connected.

On Jan. 6, the store's alarm was triggered around 9:30 p.m.

The incident was caught on a surveillance camera, but the burglar's face was covered.

O'Driscoll said the alleged thief was in the store for about 10 minutes.

"They took their time, but they took very little — some rolls of coins, mint rolls, totalling maybe $300."

O'Driscoll said he believes the store may have been cased on Jan. 5, prior to the first break-in.

O'Driscoll is offering a reward to anyone with information that will lead to catching the crooks involved.

Here's the surveillance video of the Jan. 6 break-in: