Jewelry Stolen From Semitic Museum

Officials May Consider New Security Options

In light of the disappearance of three art pieces from the Semitic Museum last week, museum officials said yesterday they may reevaluate the Divinity Ave. building's security.

William L. Moran, a curator at the museum, said security around the second-floor display cases--which held the stolen pieces--is "very weak," and added that additional anti-theft measures may be necessary.

The stolen items, two necklaces and a silk headdress, all decorated with silver coins, are valued at $800-$1000. Police Captain Jack Morse said there are no suspects in the case.

Museum officials have increased greatly in the past years after other artifacts were stolen, museum director Frank M. Cross said.

Both Cross and Moran declined to comment on these changes or on current security systems, but Moran said the museum hired additional guards after a previous theft.

He added that the current security system, which prevents museum personnel from entering their offices after hours, is seen as an "inconvenience" by some.


Morse said the thieves are probably "opportunistic types" who stole the objects only for their silver content.

"Luckily so far none of the valuable things have been stolen," Cross said, adding that the thieves had "no conception of what was valuable and what was not."

The museum holds one of the nation's most important collections of Near Eastern archaeological artifacts. It reopened last April after a 25-year closing due to lack of financial support.

Its basement contains thousands of Babylonian tablets and texts "of considerable value" which are especially well secured, Moran said.

"Museums are vulnerable places unless you have a guard in front of every piece," said Clifford C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Director of the Peabody Museum. "You try like hell to do as much as possible."

Other Theft

Captain Morse also said yesterday that detectives have no suspects in the apparently unrelated theft of two silver crowns from a Torah scroll in Memorial Church on September 16.

Director of Hillel Martin R. Federman said the crowns, which were worth about $1500, were stolen before a Yom Kippur ceremony at Memorial Church.

Federman said he doubts if the crowns will ever be found. "Best chances are that they have already been melted down."