Siskiyou gold theft suspects are identified

YREKA — The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has named two suspects in last year's theft of $1.26 million worth of historic gold, one of the largest burglary cases in county history.

Investigators have named David Dean Johnson, 49, of El Cerrito, Calif., and Scott Wayne Bailey, 51, of El Sobrante, Calif., as suspects in the case. Police believe they broke into the Siskiyou County Superior Courthouse in Yreka in the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2012, and swiped $1.26 million in historic gold nuggets, jewelry and other artifacts.

"It was a large piece of our history that was stolen. It kind of hurts on a whole other level," said sheriff's spokeswoman Allison Giannini. "People still want this case brought to justice, even if it's a year later."

Surveillance footage from the crime shows two adult males breaking in through the back of the courthouse, possibly through a window, at about 1 a.m. The alarm did not sound, but officials do not believe it was deliberately disabled.

After a yearlong investigation, the sheriff's office and members of the Siskiyou Countywide Interagency Narcotic Task Force issued search warrants for several homes in Shasta and Contra Costa counties in January. They recovered evidence that pointed to Johnson and Bailey as suspects. Sheriff's officials said DNA evidence is part of their findings thus far, but declined to release additional pieces, as the investigation is ongoing. None of the stolen gold has been recovered.

The investigation also pointed to some of the stolen gold being used to buy several high-value items.

"These individuals, we feel, did cash in gold and did purchase some expensive items," Siskiyou Sheriff Jon Lopey said, declining to comment on specifics.

On Thursday, detectives traveled back to the Bay Area to search for both men, but came up empty-handed. Additional evidence was recovered, however, and law enforcement is optimistic about tracking both men for an arrest.

"We're encouraged by the progress," Lopey said. "We think that we have the right suspects, but we still have a lot of work to do. Our primary goal is to keep moving forward."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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