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Chinese antiques stolen from museum
By Yu Zhong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-02 21:37

The British Museum is still working closely with local police to trace 15 Chinese antiques stolen last week.

"We have no new information about the lost pieces so far. The case is still in the hands of the police," Hannah Boulton, a press official with the museum, told the China Daily.

Fifteen items, mostly jewelry including hairpins, earrings and fingernail guards dating back to between 700 to 1400 AD, may have been stolen Friday evening, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The museum told Xinhua that the items were found to be missing on Saturday.

Police suspect the robbery is linked to the theft of 9 Chinese art objects worth about 60,000 pounds (US$108,000) from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London last month.

The museum gave no estimate of the value of the stolen pieces.

"We do not put financial values on our pieces, but these are obviously expensive and historically important," said Boulton.

She said the museum has also appealed to dealers and collectors to watch out carefully for the missing pieces.

Boulton refused to make any comment on the security system of the museum, but said the museum has had it strengthened after the theft.

Founded in 1753, the British Museum houses one of the world's greatest collections of antiquities and artifacts, totalling around 7 million items.

The four kilometres of galleries and corridors in the museum are patrolled daily by a security force and feature a sophisticated alarm system.

This is not the first theft of Chinese antiques in England.

On October 4, thieves forced open a cabinet in the Victoria and Albert Museum and stole 9 Chinese objects including three small cups, two miniature animal figures, a bowl, two small ornamental plaques and a small ritual cylinder -- all made of a dark green-brown coloured jade.

All date from between the 15th and 19th centuries, except the cylinder, which is dated earlier than 1,000 BC, AFP reported.

"This appears to have been a well organized theft and the intention may be to sell these objects quickly," the agency quoted Mark Jones, the museum's director, as saying.

Shortfalls in museum security were highlighted in September when thieves made off with "The Scream" and another world-famous painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch from the Munch Museum in Oslo, the AFP reported.

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