More than just a solid-gold lunar space module replica was stolen from the Armstrong Air and Space Museum late Friday night, Wapakoneta police revealed in a statement on Monday afternoon.
Award medals, ribbons and presentation coins are also missing from the exhibit, which showcased 25 artifacts from Armstrong’s world tour, which he and fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took after returning from their mission in 1969.
The FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are assisting Wapakoneta police in this criminal investigation. Friday’s theft was the first for the museum in Executive Director Chris Burton’s seven-plus years there.
Here’s what we know now about the incident:
The exhibit was not centrally featured at the museum. The stolen artifacts were among 25 objects in an exhibit that showcased Armstrong’s world tour that he and fellow Apollo 11 astronauts — Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins — took after returning from their Apollo 11 mission.
The museum exhibit featured keys to the city, medals, trophies and other items that were presented to Armstrong on the world tour.
“We didn’t treat it like the moon rock, where it has a case all by itself in the center of the room,” Burton said of the lunar module replica.
There are only three of the lunar module replicas in existence. Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were each given one during their world tour in 1969.
The replicas were made by Cartier, the French luxury jeweler, and were presented to the astronauts when they visited Paris on their world tour. Cartier Paris was commissioned by Le Figaro newspaper to make the three replicas, as readers financed the project through a subscription drive, according to Cartier’s website.
The museum is conducting a security review. To investigate how the theft may have occurred, a security review is under way.
“We’re looking to see what other things might be targeted, and given what we know of this plan of attack, how else something else might be targeted in a similar fashion,” Burton said.
While Burton would not comment on the nature of the museum’s security measures, he acknowledged their existence and said that “things did work properly for this event.”
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