Thieves Target Gold

Gold jewels, some thousands of years old, have been stolen from London’s British Museum in what appears to have been an inside job. The world-famous museum fired an employee believed to have been involved in the robbery, and is working with police to recover the items and press criminal charges against the individual. “It’s a sad day for all who love our British Museum,” declared the museum’s Chair George Osborne.

The stolen items include gold jewelry, as well as gems of semi-precious stones and glass, dating from the 15th century B.C. to the 19th century A.D. All the items were in storage and had not recently been on display. Due to the ongoing investigation, the museum said it is not providing details on the precise items taken or their worth.

“The British Museum has been the victim of theft and we are absolutely determined to use our review in order to get to the bottom of what happened and ensure lessons are learnt,” said Deputy Chair Sir Nigel Boardman.

Gold has long held an allure to thieves who plunder museums. In 2022, robbers took a cache of almost 500 ancient gold coins from Germany’s Bavarian Celtic and Roman Museum. Dresden’s Green Vault Museum was the victim of a robbery in 2019 when thieves made off with gold jewels from the Royal House of Saxony, one of the world’s great collections of Baroque jewels, which authorities said were of immeasurable historical and cultural value.

Police have had success in resolving both cases. In July, German authorities arrested four suspects in the coin theft after discovering that the gold coins had been melted down into bars and gold nuggets. One of the men arrested was carrying 18 gold nuggets in a plastic bag when he was arrested. In 2022, many of the gold jewels taken from the Green Vault were recovered. The robbers in that case were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to more than six years.