According to news.scotsman.com today, thieves smashed a glass cabinet in an exhibition space on the fifth floor of the Science Museum in South Kensington, London.
Subsequently stolen from the cabinet was the scrying crystal belonging to philosopher, mathematician and astrologer Dr John Dee, consultant to Elizabeth I.
Also stolen were some “valuable documents”. The total value of the items stolen was estimated at GBP50,000.
Daylight Raid on Science Museum Gallery
By David Stringer, PA
A rare 16th Century clairvoyance crystal and valuable documents were snatched in a daylight raid on a gallery at the Science Museum, it was confirmed today.
The irreplaceable artefacts were taken at around 4.30pm yesterday, when thieves smashed a glass cabinet in an exhibition space on the fifth floor of the building in in South Kensington, London.
Museum staff have launched an internal inquiry, but do not yet know if the raiders were specifically targeting the items, estimated to be worth around £50,000.
The crystal, used as a tool by mediums and for curing disease, belonged to maverick philosopher, mathematician and astrologer John Dee, a consultant to Elizabeth I.
He lived between 1527 and the turn of the 17th Century, becoming a leading authority on “angel-magic” and beliefs that man had the potential for divine power.
Also taken was a statement about the crystal’s use by author and pharmacist Nicholas Culpeper, written on the reverse of ancient deed manuscripts in the mid-1600s.
A Science Museum spokeswoman said: “At approximately 4.30pm on Thursday, thieves broke into a cabinet at the Science Museum and stole two items from the museum’s collection belonging to the Wellcome Trust.
“The artefacts were transferred to the museum by as part of the permanent loan of the Wellcome Medical Collection in 1976.
“The items are unique and as such difficult to value but they could be worth as much as £50,000.”
It is thought there were two raiders, who waited until the gallery was empty before snatching the items.
“A member of staff was alerted by the sound of breaking glass and immediately informed our security workers, who reported the incident to the police,” said the spokeswoman.
Staff are reviewing security procedures and CCTV footage as part of an internal inquiry into the incident.
CID officers from Scotland Yard have also visited the scene and launched an investigation.
Jon Tucker, head of Science Museum, said: “This is a very distressing loss to the museum as these objects are of great historical significance and irreplaceable.”
“It is incredibly difficult striking the right balance between providing good public access to our unique collections for our millions of visitors, whilst providing enough protection against a tiny number of determined criminals.”