Call it the Motherlode Thomas Crowne Affair. Stockton may have gold chain robberies; Mariposa has gold nugget robberies.
Friday, around 4 p.m., several armed men walked into the California State Mining and Mineral Museum and walked out with 2 million dollars of gems and gold, lots of gold. Thieves broke into the vault, trying to get their hands on the Fricot Gold Nugget – an exceptionally rare 13.8 pound crystalline gold nugget.
But, the highly identifiable chunks of gold that were stolen? James Hutchings of the Roseville Rock Rollers says the gems and gold would be pretty much unsellable on either the legitimate or black markets in their natural form. Enter the history ruining power tools.
“They probably would take them to an oxyacetylene torch and just melt them down into blobs of gold, which would be an absolute travesty,” Hutchings told FOX40.
The melting process is a quick one.
“A matter of minutes. Get a crucible with an oxyacetylene torch and it would be a matter of seconds to take a very large nugget and turn it into a nugget of melted gold.”
With the price of gold running more than $1,700 per ounce, the Mariposa robbery has a huge payoff potential.
“If the gold were melted down, it would go to a refinery and they would refine it to 99.99 percent gold and give you a check,” Hutchings said.
The California State Mining and Mineral Museum does have a surveillance system and that video has been handed over to the California Highway Patrol, the investigating agency in this case.