ABERDEEN, Wash. — Aberdeen police said looters broke into the remains of the burned-down Aberdeen Museum of History and stole vintage firearms from the ashes.
Investigators tracked down three rifles, but four are still missing.
“It was a really happy day. I mean, it felt like, oh, we didn't think, possibly, that we'd see them,” said Dann Sears, museum conservator and archivist.
Sears couldn't believe it when he found out that Aberdeen police had tracked down three of the stolen vintage firearms.
The Aberdeen Museum of History caught fire in June.
For months, it was too dangerous to go inside. No one noticed the break-in until mid-September, which made it tough for investigators.
“It's a waiting game until they tell us it's OK to go in and, at that point now, we start finding out and we're kind of behind the eight ball at this point. We don't know exactly what timeframe the firearms were taken from the building,” said Lt. C.J. Chastain, of the Aberdeen Police Department.
Once museum officials got inside the artillery in October, they quickly realized that more than a half-dozen firearms were missing.
“You get very upset and you're mad and you want to get the little slimeballs that took them,” said Sears.
With the help of the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office, Aberdeen police tracked down three of the stolen firearms and arrested a 56-year-old man, officers said, is connected to the case.
Now, police are searching for the remaining four weapons:
- An 8mm Japanese semi-automatic pistol
- A World War II bolt action military rifle.
- A World War I 1903 Springfield rifle.
- A Winchester rifle dating back to the 1890s.
Officers are also searching for two missing bayonets.
“It's sad to see, in spite of the fact so many other things were burned beyond use, the things that did survive were taken,” said Chastain.
Those who know anything about items stolen from the Aberdeen Museum of History are asked to contact the Aberdeen Police Department.
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