Greek police crack Olympia theft, recover artifacts
November 26, 2012, 12:03 am TWN
PATRAS, Greece--Greece officials announced on Saturday they had solved an embarrassing museum robbery in Olympia in February after a police sting operation netted three suspects and recovered dozens of archaeological artifacts.
Earlier Saturday, police said they had arrested three Greek men aged between 36 and 50, and were seeking another two suspects.
The three were arrested at a hotel in the city of Patras late on Friday after one of them tried to sell the Bronze Age gold ring for 300,000 euros (US$387,000) to an undercover officer posing as a potential buyer.
The original asking price had been 1.5 million euros, the police said.
Officers were then dispatched to a village near Olympia where they found the remaining artifacts buried inside a sack in a field.
“The discovery and arrest of the perpetrators of the robbery and the recovery of the stolen items are a great success,” Costas Tzavaras, deputy education minister responsible for culture, said in a statement.
Back in February, a pair of armed robbers made off with nearly 80 artifacts from a museum dedicated to the ancient Olympic Games.
The stolen treasures included a 3,300-year-old gold ring, a bronze statuette of a victorious athlete, a 2,400-year-old oil jar, clay lamps, bronze tripods and miniature chariot wheels, as well as dozens of idols of charioteers, horses and bulls.
“All the items were recovered,” the ministry's general secretary, Lina Mendoni, told reporters in Athens.
“Next week they will regain their place at the museum,” she added.
In February, police had described the robbers as amateurs who had turned up at the wrong museum.
A female guard who confronted them said they had been looking for a pair of golden wreaths, which were not kept in that particular collection.