Masked robbers steal gold, gems from California mining museum

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 02, 2012 1:02 AM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Robbers wearing masks and goggles broke into a mining museum in California and stole gold and gems valued at up to $2 million, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.

The masked men broke into the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa, California, on Friday afternoon with pickaxes and forced employees into one end of the building, the Times reported, citing a state parks spokesman.

The thieves then attempted to steal a nearly 14-pound chunk of crystallized gold known as the Frisco Nugget, the paper said, but were unable to break into an iron safe where it was held.

The California State Mining and Mineral Museum is described on its website as offering visitors the chance to explore the variety of the state's mineral wealth and view "breathtaking gems and minerals from around the world."

According to the website, the Frisco Nugget was discovered in the American River in Northern California in 1864 and is the largest intact mass of crystalline gold remaining from California's Gold Rush era.

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The Times reported that the museum had moved its treasures to an undisclosed location following the robbery and were taking inventory to determine what was missing.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb, editing by Philip Barbara)