Rare Chinese Artifacts Stolen in Museum Heist

18 items swiped in $30M Cambridge raid
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2012 1:30 AM CDT
Rare Chinese Artifacts Stolen in Museum Raid
Thieves have it now.   (Fitzwilliam Museum)

A gang who broke into a Cambridge University museum after hours made off with some small but incredibly valuable Chinese artifacts. The 18 items stolen, most of them made of jade, were worth close to $30 million in total, the Daily Mail reports. The items, including a 16th-century carved buffalo, had been in the museum's collection for more than 50 years after being bequeathed by private collectors. Police suspect the Cambridge items may have been stolen on the orders of a less public-minded collector.

"These works are a highly important part of our collection, and their loss is a great blow," said a museum spokesman. Police say they are doing everything they can do recover the "valuable and culturally significant" items. The value of Chinese artifacts has exploded in recent years, and there appears to be a boom in theft as well: Just two weeks ago, artifacts worth $3.2 million were swiped from another British museum. Five people were arrested after that theft, and the stolen items were recovered. (More art theft stories.)

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