Durham University’s Oriental Museum was robbed on Saturday after two men and a woman from the West Midlands area of the UK stole two Chinese artifacts with an estimated value of 2 million pounds ($3.2 million).
Authorities in northern England confirmed that two “priceless” artifacts were stolen after the thieves broke into a ground-floor gallery, stealing a large jade bowl with a Chinese poem written on the inside and a Dehua porcelain sculpture. The bowl dated back to 1796.
Both of the items stolen from the theft are part of the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty in China, which ruled from 1644 to 1911.
Police quickly arrested both men and their female accomplice however the items have not yet been recovered.
In a statement regarding the theft museum curator Craig Barclay stated:
“We are extremely upset to have fallen victim to such a serious crime,” while he added, “The two pieces are highly significant in that they are fine examples of artifacts from the Qing Dynasty.”
The museum has been closed until further police investigations can be completed and officers say they are still looking to located “several outstanding suspects.”
Museum curator Dr Craig Barclay said of the museums closing:
“We are very sorry that our customers have been affected by this incident and intend to reopen as soon as possible.”
This isn’t the first time the museum has been targeted by art thieves, a rare copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio was taken in 1998.
The museum and local police have not revealed what type of security system was in place to help avoid such thefts from occurring, although it’s likely that a better system will be installed after this theft was successful.