The elderly couple only left their car for 10 minutes, but it was just long enough for a thief to creep up their Annandale driveway and snatch a vintage coin and bank note collection worth as much as $500,000, Fairfax County police said.
Beyond its monetary worth, the collection had a sentimental value: The husband, who was also a dealer, spent a lifetime assembling the Confederate currency, Indian Head pennies, a 1934 $1,000 note and other rare finds, police said.
The theft, which occurred around 7:20 p.m on April 14, may have been targeted, according to authorities. The couple had just returned from a Charlottesville coin show to their home in the 3800 block of Stuart Circle.
“Nobody would have known that the stuff was in the car or where it was located,” said Officer Shelley Broderick, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman. “The detective definitely feels they were followed home from the show.”
The items were inside three brown leather briefcases, two document holders and a leather backpack, which were all hidden under a blanket in the rear hatch area of the car, police said.
Detectives believe the items may surface for sale at a future coin show or be offered to collectors.
The couple declined to talk to the media and photos of the missing coins and notes were not available.
“With the volatility of gold and silver, dealers have increasingly become targets for theft,” said Doug Davis, the founder and president of the Numismatic Crime Information Center, which tracks thefts of coins.
The missing items include:
•1929 National Notes in increments of five, 10 and 20 dollars. These notes are from but not limited to: The Peoples National Bank of Leesburg, the 2nd National Bank of Culpeper and Fauquier National Bank.
•There are also additional notes from these selected Virginia locations, Fairfax, Warrenton, Hot Springs, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Waynesburg, Strasburg, Roanoke, Marshall and Charlottesville.
•Numerous Confederate notes in denominations of one, two, five, 10, 50 and 500 dollars stored in a document book with plastic holders.
•1932 Indian Gold piece
•Numerous commemorative half dollars
•One dollar gold pieces
•Confederate Obsolete notes (no other specifics)
•1922 Plain penny
•Numerous U.S. small currency notes (no other specifics)
•1909-S VBD penny
•Book of Confederate notes (no other specifics)
•Box of Indian Head and Lincoln pennies
•Two 1934 $1,000 notes
•1934 $500 note
•1928 $500 note
Anyone with information is asked to contact Fairfax County Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS(8477). A $100 to $1,000 cash reward will be paid for information that leads to an arrest. Callers never have to give their names or appear in court.