The Oakland Museum announced Tuesday it is offering a $12,000 reward for information leading to the return of a priceless gold rush era box stolen this week.
Someone broke in overnight on Monday when the museum was closed and took the box from a plexiglass display that had an alarm. The security guard on duty called 911, but the thief got away.
This is the second time in months that the museum was robbed, and Oakland police believe the same man is responsible.
On Nov. 12, Oakland police say someone broke in the same way and made off with some gold nuggets and other items. It was part of the same gold rush display.
Museum Executive Director Lori Fogarty would not confirm reports that the box was worth up to $800,000. She did say that it was an anniversary gift from a San Francisco pioneer to his wife from the 1800s. It was lined with rare quartz and gold. It is 7 inches by 9 inches and about three pounds. It is the size of a shoe box. The museum has had it since the 1960s. The museum did not provide a photo of the missing object.
Mayor Jean Quan said, "It is a theft of our history. It is a theft of our children's history."
Oakland police believe the man broke in through a garden door. They are searching the estuary for it in case it was dumped around the water. They say the suspect is an African-American man 5 foot 9 inches to 6 feet tall with a medium complexion. He was wearing dark clothes and a white mask.
Police and the museum are not yet releasing a photo of the items or surveillance video. They say it is part of the investigation.
The box was insured and the museum has since upgraded its security system.