Did a Rogue Collector Order the Theft of Sweden’s Crown Jewels? Police Hunt for Missing Treasure, Motives, and the Thieves Who Escaped by Speedboat

Police suspect a collector ordered the theft of the gold crown and orb from a cathedral as the hunt for the criminals continues.

Swedens royal jewels dated from the 17th century have been stolen in the Strängnäs cathedral, west of Stockholm. Photo: should read PONTUS STENBERG/AFP/Getty Images.

Thieves made off with some of Sweden’s crown jewels in an audacious heist on Tuesday. 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 eyewitnesses. 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. According to Swedish newssource The Local, a police spokesperson confirmed today (August 2) that traces of evidence have been found in and around the cathedral grounds.

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 they are inlaid with 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, the police say. 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 Aftonbladet 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.

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