Up to $500K worth of gems stolen from couple’s car

Suspect vehicle is described as a gray Dodge Journey

Rare and expensive Yogo sapphires are found in central Montana. (Courtesy of Randy Gneiting)
Rare and expensive Yogo sapphires are found in central Montana. (Courtesy of Randy Gneiting)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A couple had between $300,000 and $500,000 worth of gems and other merchandise stolen from their vehicle after they attended the Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show in Washington County.

The Hillsboro Police Department said the theft happened Oct. 15 at the Washington County Fairgrounds. According to police, Randy and Katie Gneiting from Columbus, Montana, were vendors at the gem show and they specialize in Yogo Sapphires — which constitute majority of the merchandise that was stolen. They mined rare gems themselves.

The Gneitings reported that someone broke into their grey 2014 Ford Expedition and took more than $300,000 worth of gems and jewelry while they grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby McDonald’s around 6:30 p.m.

“It’s a life changing thing for us and not for the better by any means,” Randy Gneiting said.

They said they sat a table by a window so they could watch their vehicle.

Based on the investigation, it’s apparent that the thieves knew exactly what they wanted and where it was located in the car. They believe someone followed them from the gem show.

randy Gneiting's car was broken into in Hillsboro on October 24, and the thief stole more than $300K worth of gems. (KOIN)
randy Gneiting’s car was broken into in Hillsboro on October 24, and the thief stole more than $300K worth of gems. (KOIN)

The stolen cases were aluminum locking cases, each weighing around 50 pounds. Each case had at least 30 trays of jewelry and gems.

“The people that got to us at McDonald’s …  they knew what cases the inventory was packed in and they knew where those cases were located in our vehicle,” Gneiting said. “They surveilled us somehow during the load out.”

The suspect vehicle is described as a gray Dodge Journey.

Anyone with information is asked to call 503.681.6165. Gneiting isn’t holding his breath, but hopes there will be a break in the case.

“We lost about half our inventory,” he said. “As a small business owner, our inventory is what we’re going to retire on.”