Reactions as British Museum Sacks Worker over Stolen Treasures

Several social media users expressed their displeasure with the British Museum after it stated that a worker had been sacked in connection with the theft, disappearance, or damage of items kept there.

According to CNN, the museum announced in a statement on Wednesday that the Metropolitan Police’s Economic Crime Command has subsequently opened an inquiry into the issue, however no arrests have been made. The missing objects, according to the museum, include “gold, jewelry, and gems of semi-precious stones and glass dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD.”

According to the statement, the majority of the objects were “small pieces kept in a storeroom.” The museum further stated that the artefacts had lately been publicly displayed and were primarily retained for academic and research purposes.

Aside from the police inquiry, the museum stated that it has “launched an independent review of security” and will take legal action against the employee who was fired as a result of the event.

“We have been working alongside the British Museum. There is currently an ongoing investigation — there is no arrest and enquiries continue,” the Metropolitan Police told the news outlet. “We will not be providing any further information at this time.”

The director of the British Museum, Hartwig Fischer, also said the museum will “throw our efforts into the recovery of objects”, BBC reported. “This is a highly unusual incident. I know I speak for all colleagues when I say that we take the safeguarding of all the items in our care extremely seriously,” he added.

“We have already tightened our security arrangements and we are working alongside outside experts to complete a definitive account of what is missing, damaged and stolen.”

But in the wake of the announcement, several users on “X” (formerly Twitter) appeared to poke fun at what had happened. In a 2019 article published by The Guardian, British human rights attorney Geoffrey Robertson said the British Museum trustees “have become the world’s largest receivers of stolen property, and the great majority of their loot is not even on public display.”

The items the museum has in its possession include artifacts that were stolen from the Kingdom of Benin in modern-day Nigeria by British soldiers in 1897. “Oh so now its a problem,” a user said in response to the museum’s announcement. “Thieves can’t handle being stolen from,” another user commented.

A user also asked, “Where did the Museum get them?” Another user also asked why someone was “dismissed for continuing the museum’s legacy.”

“The British Museum dismissing an employee for stealing artifacts originally stolen by the British Museum is peak irony,” said a user. “The British museum which is full of items that have been stolen, sack an employee who is then stealing stolen items? The jokes write themselves,” a different user wrote.

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