Four arrested after 59 artefacts stolen from Egyptian university museum

Police say three students confessed to stealing the pieces from Sohag University's archaeological museum, with the intention of selling them

Four people have been arrested in the Egyptian province of Sohag over the theft of 59 artefacts from the archaeological museum at Sohag University. Photo: Egypt's Ministry of Interior.
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Egyptian security forces arrested four people in the province of Sohag on Sunday after 59 ancient artefacts were stolen from the archaeological museum in the city’s university.

The country’s interior ministry said they were a woman and two men who were students at the university, and one of their parents. Upon their arrest all four confessed, a statement said.

Police received a report from Sohag University on Saturday that 59 items from the university’s archaeological museum had been stolen. After going through security footage, they determined the identity of the thieves who were tracked down and arrested in possession of the stolen relics.

Police said that during their confessions, they said that they had planned to sell the items and get rich quickly.

They allegedly used a crowbar to pry open the museum doors and while one of them blocked the view of the security camera, the other entered the showroom and filled a rucksack with the items, including ancient combs and jade-coloured jugs.

Police said the female student met them outside the university building in her car which the pair loaded with the stolen haul.

The pieces were then hidden at the home of one of the boys’ fathers, police said, who was also arrested for allegedly aiding the three students in the theft, and they planned to store them at the father's home until the pieces could be sold.

The ministry said it has the four suspects in custody and that legal proceedings will begin in the coming days.

Illegal artefact sales are a rampant problem in many Egyptian provinces, especially those, like Sohag, in Upper Egypt, where people often attempt to dig for relics without the government’s knowledge.

The practice is expressly prohibited under Egyptian law, which considers all archaeological finds on Egyptian land to be the state’s property.

Updated: October 24, 2022, 10:40 AM