Thieves grab Sweden's crown jewels and escape in motorboat
Swedish police are hunting two men who brazenly stole the country's crown jewels during daylight before escaping in a motorboat.
Reminiscent of the 'Pink Panther' heist films, the crowns of King Karl IX and Queen Christina, as well as a royal orb, were snatched from Strangnas cathedral on Tuesday around lunchtime.
Police raided two locations in Strangnas yesterday but admitted they were struggling to find any clues.
"It's 1-0 to them right now," Thomas Agnevik, a police spokesman, told reporters. "It is not possible to put an economic value on this, it is invaluable items of national interest."
The 1611 gold burial crowns were originally interred with the couple but were later exhumed and had been on display in a locked cabinet in the cathedral, 100km west of Stockholm.
Visitors to the exhibition were inside the cathedral at the time.
"The alarm went off when the burglars smashed the security glass and stole the artefacts," said Catharina Frojd, a spokeswoman for the 14th-century Strangnas Cathedral.
The church wrote on its website that the stolen items were kept "in accordance with the prevailing safety regulations in locked and alarmed displays in the cathedral".
Police sent out a helicopter and boat to hunt for the thieves, but found nothing.
Authorities said nobody was harmed in the raid,
Stefan Dangardt, another police spokesman, said Interpol had been brought in to help apprehend the thieves, along with Swedish helicopters and canine units.
"Several people were seen leaving the church by boat or waterscooter after the theft. We have spoken to witnesses, but we are interested in further information from anyone," he added.
Tom Rowsell was having lunch outside the cathedral where he is to marry this weekend. He told 'Aftonbladet', a Swedish newspaper: "I saw a white little boat with an outboard motor on the back. The two men hurriedly jumped on board and it sped off. I knew immediately they were burglars, because of the way they were behaving."
In 2013, the burial regalia of Johan III, Sweden's 16th-century king, was stolen from Vasteras Cathedral but was recovered days later in a rubbish bag left on a country road.
While the items are of great historic and cultural value, police expressed doubt that the theft would bring the perpetrators financial gain.
The stolen items are "impossible to sell" because of their uniqueness and high visibility, said Maria Ellior, of the Swedish police's national operations department. (© Daily Telegraph, London)