The sheriff's department is calling it the largest precious metals raid that it knows of. Authorities said they seized about $14,000 worth of stolen silver from an east Bakersfield jewelry shop. But the jewelry store owner said he had no idea he was doing anything wrong.
"A large number of collectible coins, silver ingots, and tokens from casinos," said Kern County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Stephen Pederson of the items they found.
About $14,400 worth of silver was seized from this jewelry store two weeks before Christmas. That's because police said although the shop had a license most of the items inside were stolen and the shop owner didn't keep the proper records.
"You're supposed to identify the people selling the items," said Sgt. Pederson. "You're supposed to identify the items and you are supposed to send those reports to an agency in your jurisdiction daily."
You're also supposed to hold the items for 30 days but this shop owner melted down the gold he bought almost immediately.
"He was bringing in over $20,000 a week in gold," said Sgt. Pederson.
A jewelry repairman by trade, Quintin Reyes opened up this shop last year. He would not go on camera but he and others told 17 News, Reyes was unaware he was doing anything illegal.
"He didn't know the things were stolen until the police came and grabbed the guy outside his business," said Al Terriquez who works nearby.
Authorities said a tip from a nearby businessman lead them to Joyeria Reyes.
"He mentioned seeing people line up before the business had even opened with jewelry in their pockets or in their hands," said Sgt. Pederson.
This raid lead to compliance checks of 50 different pawn shops across Kern County, half of which according to authorities were non-compliant.
As for Reyes his business is now limited to jewelry repairs while he waits for possible criminal charges.
"People come and sell the stuff you know but he didn't know it was stolen," said Terriquez.
Authorities are now trying to return the stolen silver. Anyone with collectable coins, silverware or silver jewelry stolen within the last year should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with a detailed description.