Thieves steal maharajahs’ jewels from Venetian palace

At least two thieves stole several millions of dollars worth of jewels from a exhibition of jewelry of Indian maharajahs at the Doge’s Palace on Wednesday, Italian authorities said.

Jewels are on display at the "Treasures of the Mughals and Maharajahs" exibithion at Venice's Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy, on Wednesday. Photo by Andrea Merola/EPA-EFE
Jewels are on display at the “Treasures of the Mughals and Maharajahs” exibithion at Venice’s Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy, on Wednesday. Photo by Andrea Merola/EPA-EFE

The perpetrators broke into a glass case and took the items in the morning as visitors viewed the exhibit — entitled “Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajahs.”

“The glass case was opened up as if it were a tin can while the alarm, if it worked at all, went off late,” Vito Gagliardi, the head of Venice police, said.

“It is essential to understand what didn’t work properly in the security systems,” he said.

Police said the thieves were able to escape by blending into the crowd. As soon as the alarm went off, authorities shut down the Sala dello Scrutinio inside the Venetian palace.

One of the suspects put a gold brooch and a pair of earrings into his pocket, police said after viewing CCTV footage of the heist. Though they were not the most valuable of the items in the exhibit, they were estimated to be worth several millions of dollars.

The jewelry was on loan to the palace by the Al Thani royal family of Qatar. Authorities sent photographs of the items to the royal family, which normally keeps the collection in a secure location in London.

By Danielle Haynes