An investigation is underway after robbers pulled off a huge heist at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa.
Friday afternoon thieves stole an estimated $2 million worth of gold nuggets and gems from the museum, articles which date back to the mid-1800s.
“I had heard they were dressed in black, wearing goggles threatened to use a gun and then entered a vault where a large nugget is stored,” said Roy Stearns, Director of Communications with California State Parks.
Stearns is speaking about the Fricot gold nugget, a natural chunk weighing 14 lbs.
“It was in a case that could not be broken, apparently they tried and I’m so relieved that was not taken,” said Les Marsten of the Mariposa Co. Arts Council.
The crooks’ attempt triggered an alarm, causing them to flee. But they were able to grab other precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum.
“We're not sure how much they took because we haven't completed an inventory yet,” said Stearns.
C.j Petretti, who has lived in Mariposa 24 years, says this is something he would expect to see in a big city.
“I've had stuff stolen from me recently and it's just the way the times are, but it's not supposed to happen up here,” said C.J. Petretti.
A group of students from the College of the Sequoias were disappointed to find the museum closed.
“It's a shame what people do for money. It sort of just punishes everybody else,” said Eric Hethreington, a teacher at College of the Sequoias.
It will be difficult for the robbers to sell any of these unique items so investigators need you to keep an eye out for them.
“It’s a collection that belongs to the state and each and everyone of us and it's a huge loss. I can only hope the perpetrators are caught quickly and all of the goods are returned,” said Marsten.
The museum has never had something like this happen in its 30 year history. It does have many security measures in place. Investigators are giving out too many specifics, but they may have some surveillance video to work with.