Two Chinese artifacts with an estimated combined value of $3.2 million have been stolen from a British museum, authorities said Saturday.
Two men and a woman from the West Midlands area have been arrested in connection with the Thursday night theft at Durham University's Oriental Museum, but the items had not yet been recovered, police said.
“We are still attempting to locate numerous outstanding suspects in relation to this investigation," Detective Chief Inspector Traci McNally said.
“We believe these folks would be conscious of the police investigation and would urge them to make contact with Durham Police...without delay,” the inspector added.
The northern England-based university confirmed that two "priceless" artifacts were stolen when thieves broke into a ground-floor gallery at the museum: a large jade bowl with a Chinese poem written inside that dates back to 1769, and a Dehua porcelain sculpture.
"We are extremely upset to have fallen victim to such a serious crime," museum curator Craig Barclay said in a statement. "The two pieces are highly significant in that they are fine examples of artifacts from the Qing Dynasty."
The museum will be closed until further notice, the university said.
“We are very sorry that our customers have been affected by this incident and intend to reopen as soon as possible," Barclay said.
This isn’t the first time the museum has been targeted by art thieves. A rare copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio was taken in 1998, according to The Inquisitr.
"The museum and local police have not revealed what type of security system was in place to help avoid such thefts from occurring, although it’s likely that a better system will be installed after this theft was successful," the report adds.
The Associated Press contribute to this report.
Front page photo source: bigdani/flickr.com