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Gold Rush-era jewel box stolen from Oakland Museum recovered

March 5, 2013 9:56:45 PM PST
Jubilant city leaders gathered with Oakland police Tuesday to announce the recovery of an $800,000 jewelry box stolen in January from the Museum of California. They also have a suspect under arrest.

The box is back and the museum is confident that from here on they'll be able to protect it better than they have in the past.

Nearly two months after a valuable historic box was stolen from the Oakland Museum of California, a trio of beaming police officers walked the package, still with the evidence tag attached, back into the building.

"Today, history was restored to the city of Oakland and the state of California," Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said.

The rare 19th century piece was discovered by Oakland police Monday inside a business. It was stolen Jan. 7 in the second of two recent burglaries at the museum.

The suspect in both incidents is 45-year-old parolee named Andre T. Franklin.

"There are some pieces that capture your imagination; this box and this collection does," Mayor Jean Quan said. "I would guess that's why it's been stolen twice now."

The box was stolen and recovered once before in 1978. This time, police credit the museum's extensive video surveillance system with helping them crack the case.

The box is made of gold and quartz, engraved with railroad and Native American scenes. The historical significance was not lost on the lead detective in the case.

"What clicked with me was our California history, our Gold Rush history, American history, our heritage," Mike Igualdo said.

Museum officials hope to have it back on display very soon.

"It is our mission and responsibility to share California's history with the public," museum spokesperson Lori Fogarty said. "We do feel confident now that we can take some precautions, both in the way it is displayed and in ongoing security measures to ensure its protecting for the future."

Not all the items stolen in the recent burglaries have been recovered. Police are still trying to locate some gold nuggets and 19th century pistols stolen back in November.

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