ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Robbers in surgical masks pulled off a $4 million coin heist at knifepoint outside a coin dealers convention, getting away with gold, silver and a rare 1843 set of currency once owned by President Tyler, authorities said.

It was the second time in two years that the Florida United Numismatists’ annual coin show had been hit, and this year’s loss was much larger.

On Saturday, a Minnesota coin dealer’s employee was unloading an SUV outside a luxury hotel when a robber in a surgical mask and a hooded sweater grabbed him from behind and held a knife to his throat, witnesses and the victim told authorities. Two other masked men grabbed a suitcase from the SUV, according to authorities.

“It’s a brazen happening. This kind of thing doesn’t happen often at all, at knifepoint,” said Robert Brueggeman, head of the Professional Numismatists Guild and owner of Positive Protection, which provided security at the convention. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Padilla said the coins were extremely rare, which could make it difficult for a thief to sell them.

“I guess it makes you wonder if the people that committed this crime even knew what they were getting,” Padilla said.

Last year, thieves stole about $450,000 worth of coins by breaking into cars, most of them while dealers ate in restaurants.

This year, the convention’s organizers had increased security with more off-duty sheriff’s deputies and a 24-hour secured room where dealers could store their coins, convention coordinator Cindy Wibker said. The four-day show attracted 1,750 dealers.

AP-ES-01-10-07 1657EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.