Oakland museum hit by 2nd burglary – SFGate
Henry K. Lee
(01-08) 22:11 PST OAKLAND — A burglar made off with valuable Gold Rush artifacts in the Oakland Museum of California‘s second break-in in less than two months, police said Tuesday.
The latest theft happened at about 3:15 a.m. Monday, when at least one burglar got into the museum at 1000 Oak St. and stole a quartz and gold box dating to the Gold Rush, museum and police officials said. That object includes ornamentation depicting early California and could be valued at more than $800,000.
“I can confirm that the museum did have another break-in, and items were stolen,” said museum director Lori Fogarty. “We are currently actively working with OPD investigators and expect to release more details on the theft and the items that were stolen.”
Museum spokeswoman Kelly Koski said surveillance video showed a single thief inside the galleries.
The quartz and gold box that was stolen hadn’t been appraised in many years and its value was unclear, although Koski called it “a rare object.”
“The historical value of the object outweighs any dollar value it could have,” Koski said. “It’s invaluable when looked at in terms of our history.”
“The museum is one of the cultrual gems of Oakland,” Washington said. “The item represents a part of our history that’s invaluable.”
A news conference at the museum was scheduled for Wednesday, at which officials said they would also offer a reward for the “safe return of the object.” Quan was also expected to attend.
It is the second such break-in at the museum – located adjacent to an Alameda County courthouse – in as many months.
Late on Nov. 12, at least one burglar broke into the museum and made off with historic artifacts, including pieces of gold.
The gallery that was burglarized at that time houses American Indian artifacts, historical photos, and tools and mining equipment from the Gold Rush. That break-in was captured on a surveillance video.
A museum security guard alerted police to the first break-in after seeing a man in the video in the museum’s Gallery of California History, Fogarty said.
In that break-in, the man entered the museum’s second floor through a door to its garden and then broke through several Plexiglas display cases, stealing artifacts and valuable items before fleeing. Although Fogarty declined to elaborate, police said the stolen items included pieces of gold worth thousands of dollars. Those artifacts have not been recovered.
The museum, which has 24-hour security, had never been burglarized before November, Fogarty said.
Established in 1969, the museum also features art and nature galleries as well as special exhibitions, none of which was affected, Fogarty said. All told, the museum has 2 million items in its collection.
Both burglaries happened on Mondays, when the museum was not open to the public. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Staff writers John Cote and Matthai Kuruvila contributed to this story.