October 03, 2012 - Edward Smith got a call Sunday morning no business owner wants.
He picked up the phone to hear his security company inform him that police were on the premises of his business at 4315 Baldwin investigating a break-in.
He immediately drove to his office at Mimi's Metals to see what was going on.
"I pulled up, and there were a number of patrol cars. The door was wide open because it was destroyed. There were things thrown all over the place, (with) a lot of the showcase items dumped on the floor," he recalled.
Evidently, the double-bolt lock on the door was no deterrence to the intruders. In response, Smith has beefed up his store's security system.
"It looked like they worked on the door for quite a while until they got frustrated and smashed it," he explained.
Smith walked in and was advised not to touch items while the police lifted prints, took photos and investigated the scene for clues.
"You could tell [the criminals] were in a hurry because they left many valuables behind."
Smith estimated about 10-20 percent of his inventory was taken. About $9,000 in sterling jewelry, diamond rings, bracelets, and collector coins were stolen.
That's the dollar amount placed on the stolen merchandise, but of course there is much more value in Smith's inventory than first meets the eye.
Smith explained that at Mimi's Metals, "we handle many precious metals, gold and silver, jewelry, coins, and bullion. We buy and sell from the general public for the most part."
A large portion of the booty taken were sets of certified currency and rare collectable coins, some from his own personal collection.
Interested in history as a youngster, Smith started collecting when he was a kid and then started buying coins as he got older.
Eventually he began placing ads, soliciting coins to add to his collection. It was this large nest egg that he invested to open Mimi's Metals a few years back.
So the monetary value of these coins and precious metals may be pegged at an arbitrary number, but these coins convey much more than the ability to purchase goods and services. They are much more valuable than their use as legal tender might suggest.
Outshining the glitter and sheen of these coins' exteriors is the story of times and people gone by. Many of these coins dated back into the early 1800s, and thus represent an artifact from an earlier era.
Smith explained that many of these coins are collected by thoughtful citizens mindful of their historical aspect.
In addition to the historical collectors, some purchase the certified mint sets of coins as reliable items to add to their investment portfolio.
However, Smith doubts the criminals were interested in the history or investment value of these coin sets. "They were probably just wanting to make a fast buck," Smith said.
Smith, a native of the Orion area, is now trying to rebuild. There have been security and surveillance upgrades so he can try and guard against anything like this happening again.
"I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to get business back up and running because I lost a lot of inventory, and am losing a lot of sales."
He said his insurance company has been responsive, replacing doors and glass in quick fashion.
Smith's reputation among his customers gives him confidence that he'll soon return to full strength. "We've done pretty good for ourselves over the years," he said.
His customers are gained largely from word-of-mouth, and the trust he has fostered gains him new customers on a daily basis.
If he works hard, he expects to be back to normal by Christmas time. "I'm sure it will be okay," he assures. Even though we've been knocked down, "we just have to get back up."