Suspect in courthouse Gold Rush nugget theft arrested

One of the two men suspected of having stolen $3,000,000 worth of Gold Rush-era gold from the Siskiyou County Courthouse in Yreka, California, on February 1st, 2012, has surrendered to police and been arrested. He is being held on $1 million bail. The second suspect remains at large.

On Tuesday, March 26th, the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office and Siskiyou County Superior Court issued arrest warrants for David Jean Johnson, 49, of El Cerrito and Scott Wayne Baily, 51, of El Sobrante, for grand theft and burglary of artifacts worth more than $1 million. On Thursday detectives searched the Bay Area for the suspects. They didn’t find them, but they did find more evidence that Johnson and Baily are the two men who broke into the courthouse and stole gold nuggets, flake, leaf and jewelry from its Gold Rush collection. David Jean Johnson turned himself in on Monday, April 1st.

Although authorities had DNA evidence found in the courthouse that identified the two suspects, their names weren’t released publicly until last Friday after the Bay Area searches. Search warrants were requested based on the DNA evidence in November of last year. In mid-January, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office detectives and members of the Siskiyou County-Wide Interagency Narcotic Task Force searched homes in Redding, Shasta Lake, El Cerrito and El Sobrante. The searches found high-value consumer goods that were probably paid for with proceeds from the sale of the stolen gold.

Unfortunately there is no news on whether any of the historic artifacts survived the burglars’ shopping sprees.

[Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon] Lopey said it would be “highly speculative” to guess how much of the stolen gold, if any, would be recovered if the men are arrested.

“We don’t know how much of the gold may have been sold and we don’t know how much is left. The investigation is still ongoing,” he said.

Now that one suspect has voluntarily surrendered, hopefully he’ll spill details on how much if any of the purloined gold they kept for a rainy day. I can’t say I’m terribly optimistic. It’s been over a year and these guys obviously weren’t thinking long-term when they stocked up on widescreen TVs and diamond pinky rings or whatever stupid crap they raped history to buy.

Sheriff Lopey again:

“This has been a long an arduous investigation involving the crimes perpetrated by the suspects responsible for burglarizing our court house and stealing an historic gold display and other antiquities which cannot be replaced. These thieves stole a part of Siskiyou County history, which represents the hard work, sacrifice, traditions, and pioneer spirit which characterizes the personality of Siskiyou County and its citizens – past and present.”