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STOLEN - from the Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Museum

Last Updated: 4th Dec 2018

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

BURGLARY AT FALLBROOK GEM & MINERAL MUSEUM - Iconic San Diego Tourmaline Specimens Stolen in Early Hours of September 10,
2017

Some of the stolen pieces as they were displayed (not all specimens in this photo are missing). See photo references below.


Despite what you may have heard recently about arrests, these specimens have NOT been recovered and it is still an ongoing investigation..

Thieves broke into the Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Museum, at 123 W. Alvarado Street, in Fallbrook, a mineral-rich community in the northern San Diego County area of California. They burglarized the museum around 4 o'clock on the morning of September 10th and stole five iconic and irreplaceable tourmaline specimens. The robbers breached the security gates and front doors, smashed
the cases, grabbed the minerals, and escaped before the police arrived.

The five stolen tourmaline specimens represent highlights of the rich mining history of San Diego County - spanning over sixty years of discovery. These stolen specimens were from different mines throughout the County: the Cryo-Genie Mine, the Tourmaline Queen Mine, and the Pala Chief Mine. They have not only been on display at the museum but have also been on special exhibit at
the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. Some of them were recently featured in the California Collector's Edition to the Mineralogical Record.

These irreplaceable specimens are the heart of the San Diego County collection of the museum. The stolen crystals were obtained either by fund raising efforts, or were donations by generous benefactors. The Cryo-Genie specimens were obtained directly from Ken & Dana Gochenour: the one with the side car was donated to the museum by Dr. Peter Bancroft on behest of his late wife Virginia; the other was purchased when the Volunteers for Minerals raised half of the funds and were graciously matched with funds from Dr. Bancroft. The other notable specimens have been part of the core exhibit of San Diego County tourmalines for decades.

In addition to the five major tourmaline specimens, there were several "rough & cut" sets stolen - the late Ed Swoboda originally donated these unique sets. The stolen sets, featuring a crystal specimen matched with a cut gemstone, included several tourmalines, as well as emerald, morganite, amethyst, aquamarine, topaz, garnet & ametrine. They are instantly recognizable because Ed always mounted them on irregular, frosted, quartz bases. And he used to regularly exhibit his sets at mineral shows around the country.

Despite the theft, the Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society is undeterred. Their annual fundraising event for the community, the Fall Festival of Gems, was held on Sunday, October 8th, and the museum will be open for all to see.

The Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Museum is a free admission museum that is staffed by volunteers from the community who want to share their passion for gems, minerals, and fossils. A generous REWARD for information leading to the recovery of all, or some, of the stolen pieces is being offered. Please call (760) 728-1130.

Please report suspicious sales or activities to Detective Joel Couch, San Diego County Sheriff at (760) 451-3109 and refer to case #17147235.

Tourmaline from the Tourmaline Queen Mine, 17cm tall
Tormaline, Quartz and Lepidolite from the Pala Chief Mine, 15cm tall
Tourmaline from the Cryo-Genie mine (Single), 23cm tall
Tourmaline from the Tourmaline Queen Mine, 17cm tall
Tormaline, Quartz and Lepidolite from the Pala Chief Mine, 15cm tall
Tourmaline from the Cryo-Genie mine (Single), 23cm tall
Tourmaline from the Tourmaline Queen Mine, 17cm tall
Tormaline, Quartz and Lepidolite from the Pala Chief Mine, 15cm tall
Tourmaline from the Cryo-Genie mine (Single), 23cm tall
Tourmaline and Quartz from the Tourmaline Queen Mine, 8cm tall
Tourmaline (double) from Cryo-Genie mine, 23cm tall
Tourmaline and Quartz from the Tourmaline Queen Mine, 8cm tall
Tourmaline (double) from Cryo-Genie mine, 23cm tall
Tourmaline and Quartz from the Tourmaline Queen Mine, 8cm tall
Tourmaline (double) from Cryo-Genie mine, 23cm tall


Take a special look at that last photo, the double-tourmaline from the Cryo-Genie mine. This piece was donated by Peter Bancroft to the museum in memory of his wife Virginia. Please, if you know anything or suspect anything pass on information. We want to get these pieces back to the museum.


This article is linked to the following museum: Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Museum (California)




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