FRANKLIN, New Jersey --
Burglars climbed a barbed wire fence, rappelled into a museum and smashed display cabinets to steal $30,000 in emeralds, diamonds and other precious stones, leaving bloodstains throughout the building, police said.
The burglars climbed the fence and forced their way through a second-story window into the Franklin Mineral Museum early Monday morning, investigators said. They rappelled down to the main floor to steal the gems, stones and minerals.
An alarm was triggered, police told the New Jersey Herald , but an officer who went to the museum found nothing amiss. The theft was discovered when an employee arrived to open for the day.
Police say the thieves caused substantial damage.
Investigators believe one or more of the suspects was hurt and are asking the public to be on the lookout for anyone with an unusual laceration.
The Franklin Mineral Museum tells the story of the Franklin zinc mine in Sussex County. Its mineral exhibit houses about 5,000 items, according to the museum's website.
In 2011, more than $400,000 worth of gold was stolen from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, just a few minutes away from the Franklin museum. The gold was never recovered.
By Kathy Stevens New Jersey Herald
Posted: Jun. 20, 2017 12:01 am
Police seek public's help
FRANKLIN -- More than $30,000 in precious stones, gems and minerals were stolen early Monday from the Franklin Mineral Museum, and police are asking the public to be on the lookout for someone with a severe laceration.
The daring theft is believed to have occurred sometime after 4:40 a.m., when the burglars, after climbing a barbed wire fence, forced their way into the museum through a second-story window. According to Franklin Police Detective Sgt. Nevin Mattessich, the thieves used a ladder on the property to reach the window, then rappelled down to the main floor at which time one of them suffered a severe cut.
"We are asking any doctor, medical facility or hospital who treated someone with a significant cut to contact us."
Detective Sgt. Nevin Mattessich
Franklin Borough Police
Bloodstains were found throughout the museum, he said.
The burglars ransacked the shelves and displays and several of the museum's display cabinets were shattered, causing substantial damage, he said.
The stolen merchandise is a unique part of the mineral history within Sussex County. Mattessich said the items stolen include emeralds, diamonds, topaz, opals and other precious stones and gems.
The theft was discovered by an employee who was opening the museum for the day about 9:30 a.m., Mattessich said.
The facility has an alarm, which did go off at about 4:40 a.m. A police officer responded and checked the building, but did not notice anything amiss, Mattessich said.
Police do not know if the burglars' entry triggered the alarm, or if they took an action that triggered the alarm and then entered the building after the responding officer left, Mattessich said.
The museum building looks low from the front, but in the back where the window was broken, the ceiling rises to a lofty height, Mattessich said.
"We are asking any doctor, medical facility or hospital who treated someone with a significant cut to contact us," Mattessich said.
Police are also asking people to be on the lookout for anyone who might have an unusual amount of precious stones or gems.
Anyone who has any information regarding the break-in or anyone who has noticed someone with an unusual laceration is asked to contact Detective Daniel Flora at 862-273-5170 or Detective Sgt. Nevin Mattessich at 862-268-1401. Callers can remain anonymous.
The theft occurred just after a weekend event in a long-vacant lot off High Street where members of the Franklin Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society got a chance to prospect a previously untouched area of the Franklin zinc ore body. The event was filmed by a documentary crew.
In July 2011, more than $400,000 worth of gold was stolen from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg. The gold was never recovered.
The Franklin Mineral Museum opened in the 1960s as a museum dedicated to local minerals. It recreates and tells the story of the Franklin zinc mine, which closed in the late 1950s. The museum contains a replica of the Franklin mine for exploration, exhibits of local minerals, fossils and American Indian artifacts. Its worldwide mineral exhibit numbers 5,000 items in all, according to the museum website.