Qatari-owned jewels stolen in audacious heist in Venice

Thieves made off with several items of Indian treasures owned by the Qatari royal family in an audacious heist on Wednesday at the Doge's palace in Venice, Italy, police said.

At least two thieves are thought to have entered the exhibition, mixing with other visitors. Then, while one kept watch, the other opened a display case and grabbed a jewelled golden brooch and a pair of earrings.

Italian authorities investigating the theft put the value at about $1.2m.

The thieves got away with the jewels on the final day of a four-month exhibition, "Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajahs", which included about 270 items showcasing five centuries of Indian craftsmanship. The stolen jewelry was made of diamonds, platinum and gold, according to a Guardian report.

Investigators said the pair took the items from a reinforced display case after deactivating the alarm system, before melting into the crowd and making good their escape.

The alarm was raised only several hours later at the palace, known as the Palazzo Ducale in central Venice at one end of Saint Mark's Square.

"We are clearly dealing here with two skilled professionals who managed to pull off their feat despite all the display rooms being fitted with technologically highly sophisticated (alarm) systems," chief police commissioner Vito Gagliardi said.

The Venice Foundation of Civic Museums said in a statement that the stolen items were “contemporary pieces and consequently are of less historical value than other items in the collection”.

The collection was assembled by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani and now belongs to Qatar's ruling family.

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