crimesider

Two Thieves Steal Gold Bar from Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

(WKRG)
Two Thieves Steal Gold Bar From Fla. Museum
(WKRG)

KEY WEST, Fla. (CBS/AP) Two thieves didn't have to scour a deserted island or the depths of the sea to to nab a gold bar. According to police, they stole the bar - which was recovered from a shipwreck of a Spanish galleon off the Florida Keys - from the case at a museum.

The two bandits stole an 11-inch, 74.85-ounce gold bar worth an estimated $550,000 Wednesday from the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Fla., where it had been displayed for more than 20 years.

Museum executive director Melissa Kendrick described the heist as "a very quiet smash and grab," according to Reuters.

Authorities say the bar was locked in a transparent case that allowed visitors to touch it while keeping it secure. Apparently the suspects had a selfish penchant for history when they decided to take off with the historic artifact.

"Everybody who comes to the museum is encouraged to lift the gold bar and to have a firsthand experience with history," states Kendrick on the museum's Web site. "This is one of the most iconic and best-known objects in the museum."

Security footage shows the suspects breaking into the case around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, police and FBI are working to identify the suspects.

The bar was recovered in 1980 from the Santa Margarita shipwreck, which Fisher discovered, according to the museum's website. The ship was one of eight to sink in a 1622 hurricane and was filled with gold bars, jewelry and silver coins.