Gold nuggets valued at nearly $13,000 were stolen early Tuesday from a museum in San Francisco's financial district after suspects used a stolen SUV to crash through the facility's glass doors.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the incident
was the latest in a rash of similar "crash-and-grab" robberies with the suspects using vehicles to create an entry point into the establishment they are hitting. The newspaper said the masked suspects appeared to pass up more lucrative items at the Wells Fargo History Museum around 2:30 a.m. and settled on the historic gold nuggets.
San Francisco police officer Grace Gatpandan told The Wall Street Journal
that three suspects swiped four to 10 ounces of gold nuggets that date back to California's Gold Rush.
She said the museum is still examining its inventory to see if anything else was taken.
"We're disturbed this happened to the Wells Fargo History Museum, but are grateful no team member was harmed," a Wells Fargo Bank spokesman told The Journal. "Additionally, the historic stagecoaches on site weren't damaged. Rest assured, the museum will reopen."
Police told the newspaper that one suspect had a weapon and held a security guard at the scene at gunpoint until the suspects departed. Authorities learned that the SUV used to ram into the museum was stolen.
Precious metal dealers told The Associated Press
that it might be difficult for suspects to unload the gold nuggets. Suspects who took $1.3 million worth of gold, quartz, and other valuable metals on display at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in 2012 were only able to sell about $12,000 worth of the loot to pawn shops and dealers.
The museum took a bigger loss in the damage to its glass entrance, which was estimated at $200,000, authorities told The New York Times
. Wells Fargo runs 10 corporate museums like the one in San Francisco around the nation, from Alaska to Charlotte, North Carolina.
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