Dalton store owner asking for help: Nearly $40,000 in rare coins - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dalton store owner asking for help: Nearly $40,000 in rare coins stolen

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DALTON, GA (WRCB) -  Juan Lama is used to having customers take their time while browsing his collectibles at Dalton Stamp and Coin.

Lama says customers are encouraged to ask questions and look around. His family owned business sells all kinds of collectibles, ranging from baseball cards to silver dollar coins.

"I've always been a collector," Lama said, "For all my life, and just took it up and made a business with it."

But never in his 30 years of business had a customer walked away with rare coins during a conversation.

That is, until now.

"I showed him, three, four, five coins," Lama said, "He decided that he wanted those, he put back a couple, so I really didn't think anything of it."

Lama was helping a man pick out a few rare silver dollar coins. It was the second time the same customer had be in his store on Nov. 17, Lama said he was looking for coins to match a few dates in particular.

The customer kept asking more questions, having Lama go back and forth from one counter to another, and eventually asked Lama to see a different product behind him.

"So when I bent over to turn around and pick it up to show it to him," Lama remembers, "He picked up the box and put it in his jacket."
     
What the man walked out with was not just a box of coins.

"It's in the neighborhood of $40,000," Lama said.

Dalton police say the suspect knew what he was doing. He took between 70 and 80 rare silver dollars.

He is described as, "A black male with a shaved head standing approximately 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. He wore eyeglasses, a dark jacket, jeans, and white tennis shoes."

"We believe this is an individual that knows something about rare items and their value," said Dalton Police Public Relations Specialist Bruce Frazier, "And we're hoping that maybe somebody in the collectable market will know this individual and give us a call."

A picture of the suspect covers the counters at Lama's coin shop.
     
Lama is determined to get back his stolen goods.

"I feel like we need to find the guy and bring him to justice," Lama said.
     
Lama says for the first time in 30 years of business he feels violated in his own store.

"I don't want to assume that everybody who walks in is a thief," Lama said, "But it makes you feel that way. I'm just going to have to be more careful."

Dalton Police said the picture of the accused coin thief matches a description from a similar heist in Fort Oglethorpe.
    
At that store, a man stole a rare $1,000 bill.

If pictures of this man look familiar or if you have any more information, call Dalton Police at 706-278-9085.


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