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.

Historic Gold Nugget Collection Stolen in Yreka 2 February,2012Stephanie Martin Taylor

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