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Gold prices up, so are lures to get it
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Gold bullion now sells on the "spot market" for more than $1,000, which makes it quite an attractive commodity. And, market analysts are forecasting gold's value to continue increasing for some time to come. There are many reasons for gold's increasing value, but among the more basic ones, it is seen as a "safe haven" investment, especially with the declining value of the dollar.

It comes as no surprise that criminals see an opportunity to profit. Thefts of jewelry are already on the rise, and are occurring in the form of residential burglaries and thefts from retail stores. Some products, like electronics, also contain gold, so thieves are going after anything that might yield them some easy money.

Criminals know that almost everyone has gold at home - whether it is jewelry, ornaments, eating utensils or other decorative items. These facts alone make homes vulnerable to burglaries, so we recommend that citizens take extra precautions to protect their homes and gold. Specifically, it is important to ensure that you have taken steps to secure access to your homes. Doors and windows should have adequate locks on them and should be locked every time the home is left unattended, even if you are going for a short walk or trip to the store. Another easy way to protect yourself and your home is to get to know your neighbors. Nothing beats having a cohesive neighborhood where everyone looks out for each other. Suspicious persons should be reported to the police at once, and neighbors are in the best position to recognize people, vehicles, and behaviors that are suspicious.

Be sure not to leave jewelry in unattended vehicles for thieves to steal, and if you are in the retail jewelry business, now is the time to increase the security of your goods. We are expecting more occasions of criminals asking to look at jewelry items, and once the jewelry is removed from the display case, criminals will bolt from the store without paying for the item. Common sense comes into play, of course, but most people have not yet adapted to the increased theft threat now associated with gold jewelry.

You might also consider storing your gold items in a safe deposit box until the gold craze subsides. I realize that having to access your personal belongings at a bank may be highly inconvenient, but that arrangement is less problematic than having them stolen and gone for good. It is, indeed, unfortunate that we even have to consider taking steps like this, but, frankly, this is what our society has become and we all have to pay the price.

One other aspect of the gold situation is the selling of gold. I have seen many advertisements for businesses or persons wanting to buy gold. If you are considering selling your gold items, it is wise to educate yourself first. I have heard reports from people who sold gold jewelry to unscrupulous buyers who paid far less than what the items were worth. This, of course, is not a criminal matter, but you should know what you have (the purity and approximate value), then do business only with reputable, licensed businesses. Street dealings are ill advised.

Do not display gold items unnecessarily. Also, be sure to take pictures of all your valuables and keep them in a safe place. Those pictures often prove invaluable to police investigators when they find persons suspected to be in possession of stolen property.

If you are unfortunate and fall victim to one of these thefts, be sure to file a police report without delay.