HILLSBORO, Ore. – At least $300,000 worth of gems was stolen from a Montana couple's vehicle following the Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show earlier this month.
The theft occurred on the night of Oct. 15 at a Hillsboro McDonald’s located at 1215 NE 48th Ave. The couple, Randy and Katie Gneiting, visited the McDonald’s after being vendors the gem show, which took place at the nearby Washington County Fairgrounds.
The Gneitings left the fairgrounds at about 6:30 p.m. They went to the McDonald's, ordered food and sat at a table where they thought they could watch their vehicle through a window, according to Hillsboro police.
But when the couple returned to their gray 2014 Ford Expedition, several aluminum lock cases with the gems were gone. The cases were mostly filled with Yogo sapphires, police said.
Randy Gneiting said the thieves broke the driver side back quarter panel on the Expedition.
"We pulled in at 6:35, the suspect vehicle pulls in at 6:38. At 6:40, they had broken in and were gone," he said.
Investigators believe the thieves knew exactly what they wanted and where to find them in the vehicle.
"We had to be surveilled during pack up because they knew the three cases that contained inventory and they knew where they were located in the in the vehicle," Randy Gneiting said.
The suspect vehicle (pictured) was described as a gray Dodge Journey.
Police released surveillance video of the suspects parking next to the Gneitings’ vehicle. However, the Gneitings’ Expedition can barely be seen from the camera’s viewpoint.
Randy said he and his wife, who are in their 60s, have been mining, faceting and selling the gems for years. He said the cases that were stolen had more than half of their inventory.
"You build up a business and look at an exit strategy to have a retirement sale...and have some cash to enjoy retirement with family an dour grandson and that's gone," he said. "It's a pit in your stomach."
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Hillsboro police at 503-681-6175.