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$2 million in gems, gold stolen from Calif. museum

Associated Press Modified: October 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm •  Published: October 1, 2012
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California investigators searched Monday for thieves who made off with an estimated $2 million in precious gems and gold from a mining museum in the Sierra Nevada foothills during a brazen daytime robbery.

But they didn't get away with the biggest prize of all — the nearly 14-pound Fricot Nugget, a giant crystalline gold mass unearthed in the Gold Rush era.

During their attempt to grab the massive nugget, the robbers triggered an alarm that alerted authorities who swarmed the museum but were unable to nab the thieves.

At least two robbers wearing hoods and armed with pickaxes threatened workers during the heist Friday at the California Mining and Minerals Museum in Mariposa, the California Highway Patrol said.

No suspects have been identified.

The two museum employees who were onsite during the crime were not injured, but they remained shaken from the experience, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, which operates the facility, said in a news release.

Officials have closed the museum while they repair display cases and other items damaged by the robbers. Meanwhile, the parks department was busy conducting an inventory of the stolen items.

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