Mike Mickey lost $250,000 in gold.
The Whitehorse placer miner didn’t see it coming. It was late in the evening of Thursday, November 6, the last of three months of sifting soil for gold in Spruce Creek, just outside Atlin, BC.
It was below freezing.
“It was too damn cold out there,” he said.
So he ordered his six men to head for town. He usually slept in a camper at the site, but that evening he joined them in town.
And he did something he had never done before. He left two days’ worth of gold in the sluice box.
On such a cold night, he expected it to be safe.
He was wrong.
When he returned in the morning, it was gone.
He figures the missing gold is worth $250,000.
“That’s a conservative estimate,” he said.
“In the last two days we hit bedrock, so it would have been the choicest of all.”
Atlin RCMP are investigating the theft.
The loss is a big hit for Mickey, who owns and operates a mining equipment company.
“It’s big. I don’t think it’ll bankrupt me, but it would definitely take up all the profit. Probably all the profit of the gold mine and my company in Whitehorse,” he said.
The upside is the thief will have difficulty selling the stolen gold, he said. Gold from the site has a unique, reddish tinge. Gold purchasers have been alerted to the theft.
And making a transaction with gold buyers requires setting up an account with a social insurance number. Anyone with stolen gold is unlikely to take that route and risk being caught.
That means anyone trying to sell the gold would likely try to sell the nuggets for cash at a discounted price, said Mickey.
There are “a great many coincidences” involved in the heist, he said.
Whoever took the gold needed to know not only of his operation’s location, but that the gold had been left in the box and how to operate the mining equipment.
“I’m leaning away from saying inside job, but it’s spectacular timing.”
Contact John Thompson at email@example.com.