Gold stolen from historical collection

Feb. 3, 2012 at 12:32 AM

YREKA, Calif., Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Historic gold pieces valued at $3 million have been stolen from a northern California courthouse where they had been on display, authorities said.

Thieves broke into the Siskiyou County Courthouse in Yreka Wednesday and took an assortment of gold nuggets and other artifacts from a display of historical items highlighting the area's involvement in the Gold Rush of the 19th century. The loss is being itemized, but Siskiyou County Treasurer Wayne Hammer told the Redding (Calif.) Record Searchlight the entire gold display is valued at $3 million.

"They basically stole a part of our history and heritage," said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey.

After an attempted robbery in 1979, the display was rebuilt and reinforced, with an alarm connected to law enforcement officials. Allison Giannini, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said it was unclear why the alarm did not go off during the burglary Wednesday.

Claudia East, vice president of the Siskiyou County Historical Society, said the items are "absolutely irreplaceable."

"It's such a unique collection," East said. "I think it was the only one like it in the continental United States."

The gold display has been a tourist attraction, especially for Californians eager to learn more about the state's Gold Rush history, East said.

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