There’s gold in them thar courthouse.

Or, rather, there was — until thieves broke in and stole the majority of the historic collection from its display case.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s office says thieves entered the county courthouse in Yreka early Wednesday and broke into a case displaying nuggets from a variety of the county’s Gold Rush-era mines.

The entire collection’s worth is estimated at around $3 million dollars. Local officials and historians say they’re worried the thieves will melt it down, destroying a piece of California’s history in the process.

“It was just a really unique collection,” said Claudia East, board vice president for the Siskiyou County Historical Society.

The collection included a 28-ounce shoe-shaped nugget known as “The Slipper,” samples of gold dust and smaller nuggets in shades ranging from bright yellow to reddish-gold.

East said she knows of no other collection like it in the continental United States, and it was proudly displayed at the 1939 World’s Fair on San Francisco’s Treasure Island.

Courthouse surveillance footage shows two adult white men breaking in through the back of the building.

Authorities are trying to find out why the alarm didn’t sound.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department at 530-841-2900.

Author

Stephanie Martin Taylor

Stephanie Martin is a radio news reporter and anchor, and an occasional host of the KQED Newsroom television program. While she currently focuses on housing and development issues, she has also reported on topics ranging  from state and local politics to religion to arts and culture. Prior to joining KQED in 2005, Stephanie was an anchor and reporter for WFDD, the NPR affiliate in Winston-Salem, NC. She also spent several years as a television anchor, reporter and producer at various stations around the country. Stephanie has received numerous awards for her reporting, including two National Headliner Awards, the Religion Newswriters Association's Best Radio Reporting Award and honors from the Associated Press and the Radio and Television Digital News Association. A series she produced from Iraq in 2005 earned a Best of Radio Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Stephanie received a graduate degree in Journalism from Columbia University. As an undergraduate at Colgate University, she worked and studied in Paris and Dijon, France, and spent a summer interning in the White House Press Office. Stephanie grew up in Dallas, TX, and now lives with her husband in San Francisco.

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