The British Museum had to fire a member of staff and has laid out some “emergency measures” after items were stolen.
The goods that disappeared include gold jewelery and semiprecious gems and glass that range in date from the 15th century BC to the 19th century BC. Some other items were damaged in the process, and an independent review of the British Museum’s security was launched in relation to the theft. There will be a police investigation on the staff member, and legal action will be taken. The independent security review has also taken the role of discussing future security arrangements.
The missing items were mostly small pieces that are not on display but belong in a storeroom where they are used for academic and research purposes instead.
George Osborne, the museum chair, commented:
Our priority is now threefold: first, to recover the stolen items; second, to find out what, if anything, could have been done to stop this; and third, to do whatever it takes, with investment in security and collection records, to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Hartwig Fischer, the museum director, has also commented on the fact:
We have already tightened our security arrangements and we are working alongside outside experts to complete a definitive account of what is missing, damaged and stolen. This will allow us to throw our efforts into the recovery of objects.
Furthermore, the recovery [program] will work to ensure the stolen items are returned to the British Museum. It will be a painstaking job, involving internal and external experts, but this is an absolute priority – however long it takes – and we are grateful for the help we have already received.
Neither the Metropolitan police of London nor the museum have agreed to comment any further before investigation continues with more information on the topic.
The British Museum’s vast collection of valuable items has seen several thefts over the years: from coins and medals stolen in the 1970s to Roman coins stolen in 1993 after a museum burglary. The museum tightened security in 2002, when an ancient Greek marble head dated at around the 6th century BC was stolen by a visitor. At the time, the British Museum was not completely covered by CCTV and was being patrolled by staff in some parts. In 2004, some ancient Chinese jewelry went missing, while in 2017, it was leaked that a £750,000 Cartier diamond ring had been stolen in 2011.
Once again, the museum is under shock due to the loss of precious and ancient artifacts in the greatest heist it has seen in a decade. It is once again under scrutiny not just nationally but also internationally as it preserves pieces of worldwide history.