Museum Theft Alert


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    • #4803

      Hi  All,
      Just thought I would let everyone know that on July 25, 2013 the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington, North Carolina was a victim of theft.
      There were 5 Civil War-era objects that were taken from a display case, which reports say it had a broken lock. 
      The theft occurred during open hours and the on the morning of July 26 , museum officials discovered the following items missing: a U.S. Army oval brass belt buckle with “US” stamped on the face, a Confederate infantry brass button stamped with “I” on the face, a Confederate artillery brass button stamped with “A” on the face and two Confederate North Carolina brass buttons stamped with “NC” and a seven-point star-burst pattern.
      Link to article:
      These types of thefts have been increasing in the last two years. I have included below an excerpt from a “Tip of the Month” that I sent out to our region parks so they could be proactive in protecting their museum collections from these types of thefts.
      Collection items and artifacts that are housed in exhibit cases are vulnerable to theft by a thief in a number of different ways. One way is to remove the screws while no one is watching and remove the contents of the display case. Another method in which a thief will carry out a display case theft is to visit the museum several times and remove one screw at a time, and on the final trip the theft is carried out with ease.
       If no one is checking the cases each night and looking for missing screws, the thief will be successful on his final trip to the exhibit. Below I have included several articles where museum objects were taken from their display cases by removal of the screws that hold the case together. This type of theft is quite common; I was able to find 15 articles related to theft where the screws were removed from display cases. I have included below the links to 4 of the articles.–year-crime-spree/article_2579cbf1-9377-56d3-b48a-309033695f1f.html
      Tip of the Month: It is recommended that both the Park Physical Security Coordinator and Chief Curator get together and perform an audit of their exhibit cases and possibly institute additional protective measures such as changing the regular standard screws to security screws.
      Also if you have exhibit cases that have doors with hinges, you should ensure that they are hinged from the inside to prevent external access to the hinge screws or hinge pins. In 1995 an article appeared in a NPS Conserve O Gram (See Link: about display case security and the use of specialized security screws, this is a low cost easy obtainable security measure that will lower the risk of theft of collection items via removal of screws. Additionally, adding a daily check that involves: looking for signs of tampering of display cases, examining locking devices to ensure they are in working order to your opening and closing procedures is an additional protective measure that can be implemented. 

      Just thought I pass on this information.
      Mark Ross
      Regional Physical Security Specialist
      National Park Service
      Northeast Regional Office
      Office of LE and Emergency Services

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