Off hours robbery at Harlan J. Berk prompts new security measures for Chicago firm...
Exclusive CoinWeek news report....
Chicago-based coin dealer Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. has a long tradition of welcoming numismatic scholars and collectors of all experience levels and budgets. However, two weekend visitors certainly won't be welcomed back.
At approximately 6:08 AM, on Saturday morning, almost an hour after sunrise, two suspects smashed through the front door and stole an undetermined amount of coins before leaving on foot. The act took less than two minutes. Nobody from the company was on site at the time of the robbery.
"It was a brazen act," said David Greenstein, a Berk company numismatist, "The suspects wore gloves and bandanas to cover their faces and clothing appropriate for crawling through broken glass."
To breach the perimeter, the suspects pried open a metal gate that was closed two feet in front of a glass revolving door. The suspects then broke the glass and proceeded to grab material that was left out over the weekend.
The stolen material included gold coins, Presidential dollars, and state quarters.
Typically, the firm secures valuable coins in a vault after close of business, however in this instance, several gold coins that were bought at the close of business on Friday were left out. "It was all generic stuff," said Greenstein.
The company doesn't believe that the suspects were aware of the presence of the gold coins before breaking in. "By the way they behaved in the store," Greenstein says, "it is clear to us that they didn't know what they were doing."
Although larceny was their aim, its clear that the suspects weren't familiar with rare - or common - coins.
The company has turned over surveillance footage of the two suspects to Chicago police. Greenstein describes the suspects as African-American males between the ages of 18 and 35.
While the Chicago police department seeks out the suspects, Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. repairs the damage to their store. The company doesn't expect to recover the lost coins, but is planning to implement new and improved security measures.
Despite the robbery, the staff at Harlan H. Berk, Ltd. looks forward to serving numismatists and collectors. The company's store features three world class galleries of antiquities and rare coins and is open 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Central Time, Monday through Friday.