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Youths Steal Coins In Greek Display At Fogg Museum

Two youths broke into a display case at the Fogg Art Museum last Thursday morning and stole eight ancient Greek coins valued at thousands of dollars.

Although police have found neither the coins nor the youths, Daniel J. Robbins, director of the Fogg Art Museum, said that an anonymous phone caller told a museum guard on Friday that the coins would be returned sometime this week. Robbins added that a reward has been offered for the return of the coins--how much he declined to say.

The eight missing coins are part of a display of 35 coins bequested to the Fogg by Frederick M. Watkins '30, a Yale professor of Political Science who died this past summer.

The coins, depicting mythological scenes of gods and animals, were from Greek colonies in Sicily and Italy and were minted during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.

A report, submitted by Sergeant Alfred J. Doherty, the University policeman who investigated the theft, stated that the robbery was first detected by two museum visitors who saw one of the youths ripping his shirt off in front of the display case of coins. The report said that the youth, in withdrawing the coins from the plexiglass case, had apparently cut open his hand and was using his shirt to stop the bleeding.

Robbins said that the Fogg Museum guard on the first floor, where the gallery containing the coin display is located, heard the sound of the shirt ripping and saw the two youths run out of the gallery. The guard then pursued the two youths down Quincy St. for several blocks, but was unable to stop them.

"If Harvard classes had been in session," Robbins said, "the two youths might have been stopped by the many students that normally walk down Quincy Street."

When police arrived at the museum following the theft, blood, skin, and fingerprints were found on the coin display case, and three buttons from the torn shirt were discovered on the floor.

Robert Tonis, chief of University police, said yesterday that the investigation of the theft was turned over to the Cambridge police shortly after the robbery occurred.

Sergeant James A. Roscoe, the Cambridge police detective in charge of the case, said yesterday that he had notified all hospitals in the Boston area shortly after the theft to look out for a youth with a hand wound, but that no such youth has been identified.

Robbins said that the Ancient Arts Department of the Fogg has informed all coin shops in the area to watch for the stolen coins.

Suzannah J. Doeringer, assistant director of the Fogg Art Museum, said yesterday that there was no alarm system in the coin display case. She said that economic difficulties involved in installing alarm systems for temporary exhibits like the coin display necessitated the absence of the device.

The Greek coins were part of a larger exhibit of Greek artifacts bequested by Watkins to the Fogg. The exhibit closed yesterday after a three-month display period.

Robbins said that it was ironic that originally the Watkins exhibit was to have closed a week ago. Instead, the exhibit was extended an additional week because of popular demand, and the robbery resulted.

The coin theft was the second robbery to occur in the Fogg in less than a month. According to University police, a Navajo rug, belonging to the assistant librarian of the Fine Arts Library in the Fogg, was stolen from the stack area of the library on March 19. Police said that the rug has not yet been found