Evanston coin dealer charged with buying stolen goods

James Coello, owner of North Shore Coins, was charged and arrested for purchasing and selling stolen goods.

Daily file photo

James Coello, owner of North Shore Coins, was charged and arrested for purchasing and selling stolen goods.

Ina Yang, Reporter

An Evanston rare coin dealer faces multiple felony charges after he allegedly purchased thousands of dollars in stolen jewelry and other valuables from undercover police officers posing as burglars.

James Coello, owner of North Shore Coins, 1501 Chicago Ave., was arrested Tuesday and held with bail set at $250,000. He appeared in bond court Thursday after being charged with felony counts of theft, organizing a financial crimes enterprise and continuing a financial crimes enterprise.

Evanston Police Department began its investigation about six months ago when officers received information that merchandise stolen in home burglaries was appearing for sale in Coello’s store.

Undercover officers posing as burglars began to bring items into North Shore Coins to sell, according to the EPD press release. Officers hinted to Coello that the merchandise was stolen, but Coello did not record the sales or request identification from sellers, investigators said.

Coello guaranteed the undercover officers he would not reveal the source of the goods and further assured them that he always melted the valuables down quickly. The undercover officer told Coello that he had purchased his items from another burglar or sometimes stole them himself, according to the release. Coello advised the officer that it was better to be a middleman than a burglar because middlemen, when caught, typically face less serious charges.

On another occasion, Coello advised the undercover officers not to steal near Evanston and not to tell anyone else about his business.

North Shore Coins is currently closed and its website says the business is “closed for remodeling.”

Eli Peer, who owns and operates an Oriental rug shop next door to Coello’s business, described Coello as a very friendly and gentlemanly person. Peer said that he knew Coello simply as a neighbor and did not know much about his business.

“He was always coming and going, but he never bothered anyone,” Peer said.

Other businesses on the same block as North Shore Coins declined to comment on record for fear that association with Coello would endanger business.

Coello is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing Oct. 18 in Skokie.