Priceless crown jewels belonging to Sweden's royal family have been snatched by thieves who escaped on a motorboat and are now on the run. Two crowns and an orb were taken from a cathedral in Strangnas, west of Stockholm, at around lunchtime on Tuesday, the BBC reports.
Swedish police have confirmed that the stolen crowns were the funeral crowns of Karl IV and his wife Queen Kristina from 1611. Witnesses told local media that they saw two men fleeing in a small, open motorboat which was moored just below the church.
"One of my friends saw two people run from different directions, a witness told Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper. "I saw a white little boat and the men jumped in the boat and got away."
Police helicopters carried out a major search operation through the night, but the suspects are yet to be found.
Strängnäs in Sweden
"It's 1-0 to them right now," police spokesperson Thomas Agnevik said. "It is not possible to put an economic value on this, it is invaluable items of national interest."
A spokesperson for the cathedral said the treasures would have been stored in locked stands that the thieves would have had to break into, triggering an alarm. "It is an enormous loss in cultural value and economic value," she said.
About the Stolen Jewels
The two crowns were burial crowns that belonged to King Karl IX, who reigned from 1604 to 1611, and his wife, Queen Kristina. The royal couple was buried with the funeral regalia. It’s been reported that the orb is decorated with gold, pearls, and other precious stones, while the jewels date back to the 17th century. When the bodies of the deceased Karl and Kristina, who died in 1611 and 1625, respectively, were exhumed, their regalia was put on public display at the cathedral. At the time of the theft, the items were sealed in glass boxes and were taken in broad daylight.
What We Know About the Thieves
Bystanders have approached the police regarding what they witnessed on that morning. Tom Rowell, who is set to marry at the cathedral next week, told police officers that he saw two men jump from the building and flee in a small white motorboat, reports The Guardian. In a statement, he says, “We contacted the police and told them and they told us that something had been taken from the cathedral. I knew immediately they were burglars because of the way they were behaving.”
The police are on the lookout for the boat, which could be white or blue, although they believe that the suspects may have already ditched it. Royal Central writes that one of the suspects is 180 centimeters tall, thin, and was last seen in a light beige jacket and dark pants, while the other suspect is slightly shorter than the first, heavier, and was wearing a dark jacket.
In conducting the investigation, authorities have closed down three downtown areas located in Strängäs. These venues include the cathedral and the escape route.
In addition to that, the police have raided two venues in Tynnelsö and Morraröfjärden after they had received numerous tips from the public on the night of the crime.
A spokesperson has issued a statement on behalf of the police, saying, “We have no person arrested or suspected, but the hunt for the guilty continues.”
Agnevik said in a story by Reuters, “We want to spread information and pictures of these items so they can be identified as stolen objects.” He later said that they have “high hopes of getting them back.”
h/t: Royal Central
*Part of this story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com