The heist was sudden and unexpected: around lunchtime on Tuesday, two men leapt into a motorboat moored next to the cathedral in Strängnäs, a small city to the west of Stockholm, Sweden. They had with them two historic crowns and a gold-adorned orb, which they had just stolen from the cathedral. And then they vanished onto Lake Mälären.
The crowns are those of Charles IX, a Swedish king from the early 17th century, and his second wife, Christina. Both crowns are made of gold, and Charles’s—a funerary crown—iss encrusted with crystals and pearls.
According to local media, the crowns, along with an orb and cross, were taken from a locked and alarmed display cabinet at Strängnäs Cathedral.
A witness names Tom Rowell told Aftonbladet he saw two men flee the building and take off in their motorboat. “I knew immediately they were burglars because of the way they were behaving,” he said. “It’s despicable that people would steal from a holy building and a historical building.”
Thomas Agnevik, a police spokesman, told the paper it was “1-0 to the thieves,” as the cops had no luck finding them. The thieves must have broken the glass in the case, he said.
Agnevik said it was too early to say whether the thieves were professionals or not, and it was difficult to put a price on the stolen items—they are unique but “have of course no value unless they are sold.”
This isn’t the first theft of its kind. In 2013, a bronze crown and scepter from the late 16th-century funeral of King Johan III were stolen, along with a gilded apple, from a cathedral in Västerås. The items were later found in trash bags lying by the side of a motorway.