No breakthrough in museum theft probe

By Norman Palihawadane

Police investigating Friday night’s burglary at the Colombo National museum are examining the video tapes with recordings of recent visitors who frequented the museum. Statements of 20 employees have been recorded to find out why the CCTV system installed in the chamber which was burgled was out of order at the time of the incident.

There had been no breakthrough, the police told The Island last evening.

Thieves got away with priceless artifacts––seven swords, 18 rings, four handles of walking sticks and coins. They belong to the Kandyan Era. The Cinnamon Gardens police were informed of the incident around 8.30 am on Saturday.

The National museum has launched a separate probe into the theft. The Government Analyst has been called in to trace clues that the culprits may have left behind.

Sniffer dogs from the Police Kennels and Finger Print Bureau experts were are being used in the investigations. Several fingerprints found at the museum are being studied by the police to determine whether they belong to the thieves or the employees of the museum.

The CID is involved in the investigation.

Minister of National Heritage Dr. Jagath Balasuriya suspects that the burglary may have been carried out with inside help. The Minister said that he could not rule out the possibility of the involvement of antique shop owners in the theft.Director General of the National Museum Dr. Nanda Wicrkamasinghe said that the items stolen were all from the Kandyan era and the items such as swords, rings on the handles of walking sticks used by Kandyan kings and aristocrats. There had been a number of ancient coins among the stolen items.

She said according to records it was the second time the Museum had been burgled since its inception in 1877.

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