Thieves made off with some of Sweden’s crown jewels in an audacious heist on Tuesday (July 31). Two crowns and a gold-adorned orb were stolen from the cathedral in Strängnäs, a picturesque lakeside town near Stockholm. The treasure, which were taken by the thieves who escaped by speedboat, dated to the 17th century and had been made for the funerals of King Charles IX and his wife, Christina the Elder.
At the time of the theft only a priest and a janitor were in the cathedral, making the crime relatively easy to commit. The robbers fled on bicycles (with baskets and a kid’s seat) before speeding off across the lake, according to eye witnesses. Police boats and helicopters went on a hunt for the perpetrators, which continued into Wednesday. Divers also looked for clues in the lake on Wednesday.
The irony, however, is that the jewels are in fact not worth as much as it might seem. The objects, which are intended for burials and funeral rites, are made of gold but the stones that are inlaid into them are crystals and pearls, not diamonds. Furthermore, they are so recognizable that the thieves will have little luck selling them on the market in Sweden or Europe, says the police. Interpol is also taking the case on internationally.
All of these factors are why Leif GW Persson of the Swedish police believes that the thieves were completing an order for a client who specifically wanted these treasures. He told the Swedish paper that he also thinks it wouldn’t make sense to the melt them down, which makes it more likely that someone was after them for their historical value. If they did melt the booty, it would amount to only around one kilo (2.2 pounds) of gold or about Swedish krona 500,000 ($56,455).
In 2013, a scepter and crown from the 16th-century funeral of King Johan III were also stolen from a Swedish cathedral. They were returned by police several days later following an anonymous tip.