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Police hope to find owner of valuable coins

Collection found in trunk of man's car

Collection found in trunk of man's car

November 20, 2005|By CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - They found their way from someone's home to a backpack stashed in the trunk of a car to a West Virginia State Police storage room.

Now, police are hoping to finally find the rightful owner of a collection of valuable coins, gold and silver bars, and a pocket watch.

"I just want the owner to be able to come in here and get these," State Police Sgt. Eric Burnett said of the 100 or so coins. "This is a real nice collection."

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Police have been keeping the coins since June 13, 2004, when Trooper J.D. Bird found them in a backpack in the car of Justin Cook, a 25-year-old Martinsburg man well-known to police who now is being held in jail on unrelated charges.

Cook, who pleaded guilty to receiving/transferring stolen property in connection with the case, told police he had paid a man $500 for the coins.

Cook was to hold them for a short time and then sell them back to the same man for $600 - making a $100 profit, Burnett said.

Cook has refused several times to name the other man involved.

Stolen property typically is kept by police for six months before it is sent to the state treasurer's office as unclaimed property and kept indefinitely.

Burnett, though, has kept the coins longer than normal because he wants to track down the owner. Police investigated some possible leads, but none panned out.

No professional coin collector has appraised the collection, but police believe it is worth at least several thousand dollars.

The collection includes, among many others, coin proof sets, a Carson City uncirculated silver dollar, a 1988 Olympic coin, decades-old genuine gold and silver bars, tiny gold coins no bigger in diameter than a pencil eraser, U.S. Liberty coins, a U.S. Korean War memorial coin and a gold pocket watch.

Anyone who claims the coins belong to him or her must provide receipts or some other form of verification.

Burnett said he expects to keep the coins for a few more months.

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