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Gold fever sweeps the criminal underworld

September 6, 2011 • National News


In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, Jewelry store owner Abel stands inside his store in downtown Los Angeles. It’s just one aspect of the gold fever now sweeping the country’s criminal world. Law enforcement officials across the nation and beyond say they are seeing an uptick in robberies that correlates with gold’s record-high prices. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gus Rodriguez looks more like a soldier than a jewelry store security guard, with a Beretta handgun strapped to his bulletproof vest, shades wrapped around his shaved head and pepper spray bulging from a breast pocket.

“I am not afraid,” the former Ecuadorean military man says, patting his pistol. “They call me Rambo.”

After a summer of brazen attacks on gold stores, parts of downtown Los Angeles now look more like a militarized zone than a commercial corridor.

The gold fever that has driven prices to an all-time high is also fueling a crime spree in the precious metal. Police nationwide are seeing an uptick in robberies and burglaries related to gold prices, which peaked at $1,891 an ounce last month, up more than $600 from a year earlier.

The FBI doesn’t keep numbers for gold thefts but local police departments have Login to read more

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