FRANKLIN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police in New Jersey say thieves ransacked a geology museum in Sussex County and made off with precious gems and stones worth thousands of dollars.

It happened some time after 4:40 a.m. Monday at the Franklin Mineral Museum.

The suspects broke in through a second floor skylight and used rope to repel themselves down, Franklin Police Detective Sgt. Nevin Mattessich told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

Museum employee Earl Verbeek discovered the scene when he came to work at 9 a.m.

“They put up a ladder to the pitched roof, climbed up the pitch roof to the windows, smashed the windows,” he told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “Tied a rope around the support post between the two windows and then climbed down the rope.” 

The suspects then ransacked shelves and displays and smashed cabinets. Police said they stole over $30,000 in precious stones, gems and minerals that are “a unique part of the mineral history within Sussex County.”

Verbeek said they stole what looks the most valuable to an untrained eye.

“They went after faceted gemstones and one gold specimen, so it doesn’t look like they were mineral collectors,” he said.

Detectives say the silent alarm first went off at 4:40 a.m., but when police arrived they didn’t see anything and left, Bauman reported. By the time police came back, five hours had gone by.

“There’s no way for the officer to have seen any damage to the facility or to have known that anybody had entered the facility based on the entry,” Mattessich said.

Investigators said the glass apparently cut at least one of the burglars, leaving a trail of blood. Police said the injury “appears to be a severe laceration.”

Police are asking anyone with information about the break-in or if anyone has noticed someone with an unusual laceration to contact Detective Daniel Flora at 862-273-5170 or Mattessich at 862-268-1401.


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