Police have arrested a suspect in a stolen coin caper near St. Louis.
Detection Brian Shanika of the St. Louis County Police on Aug. 1 confirmed that a suspect has been arrested but not yet charged with the theft of coins at a St. Louis-area museum that were on loan from the American Numismatic Association.
The male suspect was a volunteer at the St. Louis Museum of Transportation, where the coins were on loan from the ANA for an exhibit. He lives in Brentwood, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis not far from the museum, according to Detective Shanika.
The man’s name will not be disclosed until charges are filed, which may take several months once the report of the investigation is filed, an event that was expected to occur within a week.
The coins have been turned over to Greg Lyon, recently elected to the ANA Board of Governors and a St. Louis resident. Lyon will return the coins to ANA officials during the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill., according to Jay Beeton, ANA marketing and education director.
The coins were discovered missing from a traveling exhibit at the St. Louis Museum of Transportation on June 12, one day before the exhibit was slated to begin.
The stolen coins were the most valuable items in the traveling “Money of the Civil War” exhibit, which also includes postage and fractional currency, Civil War tokens, encased postage stamps and a Confederate war bond, among other items.
The six coins — five silver pieces and one gold coin — have an approximate value of $18,844. The most expensive coin among those in the exhibit is an 1862 Coronet gold $5 half eagle, which is in Mint State 60 condition and worth an estimated $15,000, Beeton said, citing the 2012 edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins, commonly known as “the Red Book.”
The other coins in the display that were taken were an 1849 Seated Liberty silver dollar (in Very Fine 30, worth $425), an 1861 Coronet gold $2.50 quarter eagle in About Uncirculated 55 condition (worth an approximate $400), an 1847-O Coronet gold $10 eagle in VF-30 (worth $925) and an 1861 Coronet gold $20 double eagle in Extremely Fine 40 ($1,850). Also stolen was a counterfeit example of an 1857 Indian Head gold $3 coin, which had an estimated bullion value of $244.
The ANA offers organizations and clubs a choice of 10 small traveling exhibits, including the “Money of the U.S. Civil War” exhibit that was on display in the St. Louis museum.
As a result of the theft, the ANA has adopted a new policy to review the value of items in all 10 of the traveling exhibits before sending them out for display. ■