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$12,000 reward for Gold Rush-era jewel box stolen from museum

January 9, 2013 |  2:32 pm

The Gold Rush exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California, from where the jewel box was stolen. Credit: Oakland Museum of California.

The Oakland Museum of California is offering a $12,000 reward for the safe recovery of a Gold Rush-era quartz- and gold-encrusted jewel box stolen from its permanent collection during a Monday burglary.

The burglary was the second in as many months at the institution and comes amid citywide crime increases spurred in part by depleted police resources. According to data released last month, the most recent available, burglaries were up 44% over the previous year.

The box was stolen from the California history collection and depicts scenes of early pioneer life. It was reportedly a wedding gift from a San Francisco man to his wife in the late 1800s and has been in the museum’s collection since 1950, the Associated Press reported.

“The rare Gold Rush-era box stolen in Monday’s burglary … is an invaluable historical object depicting the pioneer history of our state,” museum director Lori Fogarty said in a statement. “The museum’s collection is held in public trust by the city and people of Oakland, and we hope that everyone in our community and those further afield will help us recover this precious object for the people of California.”

The previous burglary occurred in mid-November when a thief broke into the museum and stole other artifacts from the Gallery of California History, including pieces of gold. The man was spotted on a surveillance camera by a museum security guard who dialed 911 according to protocol.

Officers arrived within three minutes but were unable to apprehend anyone. The reward offered for the stolen box “is subject to certain terms and conditions required by the insurer, including that the reward claimant not have any involvement in the theft or any previous or post-theft complicity,” according to museum officials.

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-- Lee Romney in San Francisco

Photo: The Gold Rush exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California, from where the jewel box was stolen. Credit: Oakland Museum of California.

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