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Fun on Friday: Silver Theft Buffoonery

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A story I ran across a couple of weeks ago provides an opportunity to make fun of all kinds of people, from a silver thief, to a silver buyer, to a really bad writer who somehow managed to land a job writing web stories for a local TV station.

Our saga comes to you from the thriving metropolis of Lake Mills, Iowa, and was reported by KIMT 3 out of the thriving metropolis of Mason City.

The story is short, so I’m just going to copy-paste it here for your reading enjoyment.

LAKE MILLS, Iowa – A Winnebago County man is accused of being a silver thief.

Daniel Joseph Martinson, 32 of Lake Mills, has been charged with one count of second-degree theft.

Law enforcement says Martinson had sold a bar of silver to another Lake Mills resident but the buyer then asked for the bar’s serial number. Investigators say the buyer handed the bar back to Martinson on the morning of August 28, and Martinson then tried to escape with it.

Court documents state the buyer blocked Martinson in with his vehicle so he couldn’t leave and authorities were called. When law enforcement arrived, they say Martinson still had the bar of silver in his possession.

Court documents state the bar is worth $2,850.

I have so many questions.

The first is how did the person who wrote this get an actual job writing stuff? The narrative is barely comprehensible.

I went to journalism school. I was strongly encouraged to avoid passive voice. This individual revels in passive voice.

Here’s one of my favorite parts. And by favorite, I mean annoying.

“When law enforcement arrived, they say Martinson still had the bar of silver in his possession.”

If you read this sentence literally, it says law enforcement (all of it) said something at the time they arrived on the scene. TV reporters use this formula all the time. They should stop.

Anyway, on to the story.

So, apparently, the “victim” bought a bar of silver from this Martinson dude. I don’t know who Martinson is, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say he probably isn’t a reputable silver dealer. If you’re going to buy silver, I recommend not purchasing it from some guy driving around with silver bars in his car.

It seems at some point, our buyer figured this out, because he demanded the bar’s serial number. Now, if there was a serial number, it would be printed on the bar. (Not every silver bar has a serial number. Manufacturers use a number of methods to identify and authenticate their products, including hallmarks, imprinted logos, and sometimes serial numbers.)

At some point, our victim handed the bar back to Martinson.


That doesn’t seem like the best move, especially if you’re suspicious. As it turns out, it wasn’t the best move.

So, basically, as I understand the tortured prose in this story, Martinson stole a bar he had sold. This also doesn’t seem like the best move. I mean, how did he think this was going to turn out? As you read, it didn’t turn out well.

Here’s the thing, the silver bar was apparently real. And it was big. Police say it was worth $2,850. That means it was probably about a 100-ounce bar. I can understand why Martinson wanted it back. Of course, once somebody has given you a wad of cash, you don’t get it back. I’m sure the po-po explained that as they carted Martinson off to jail.

So, what have we learned here?

  1. Don’t buy silver from random guys on the street.
  2. If you are a random dude selling silver on the street, don’t try to take it back.
  3. Write better.

You’re welcome.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. I dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals (however loosely) and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The opinions expressed are my own. They are 100% correct – but not necessarily shared by anybody else here – including Peter Schiff. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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