$250,000 in Gold Stolen from Oregon Museum

Museum exterior, Wikimedia Commons

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro, Oregon reported that 107 pieces of rare gold samples -- which have a collected value of $250,000 -- were stolen late Saturday, according to The Forest Grove News-Times on April 20th.

"It's probably the best collection of gold in the Pacific Northwest," said museum curator Rudy Tschernich to the News-Times. The museum is a popular stop for school field trips and those interested in geology.

The News-Times also reported, "Police said a burglary alarm went off that night, but dispatchers were told to disregard the call by the alarm company after it was reported as a false alarm." Curators realized the burglary was real when they arrived at the museum and found the gold missing.

Tschernich said he is going to alert gold and mineral dealers about the theft. Since the gold is filigree, or resembles twisted threads much like a bird's nest, the dealers may be able to spot the pieces.

"The filigree is like thin wires and crystals all grown together just like if you'd soldered the gold filigree," Tschernich told the News-Times. "So it's far more valuable than gold bullion."

Tschernich is worried that thieves might hammer the gold into another shape to make the pieces look like bulk material instead of rare minerals. Most of the stolen gold came from the Ace of Diamonds mine in Liberty, Washington around 50 years ago.

"You make coins out of it and jewelry out of it and coat electronic parts," Tschernick said to the News-Times. "Unfortunately now, it's gone."

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals features the collection of Richard and Helen Rice. The pair started collecting rock minerals in the 1930s. In 1952, the couple built the house that now houses the collection. The museum was founded in 1997.
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