Armed robbers crash SUV into museum, steal gold

SAN FRANCISCO -- An SUV crashed into the Wells Fargo building on Montgomery Street in San Francisco's Financial District, but it wasn't cash that they were after.

Three masked men used the stolen SUV to barge into the Well Fargo History Museum at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. They then ditched the vehicle but took four, 10-ounce gold nuggets from a display case with them. Gold is currently estimated to be $1,300 per pounce.

Police say one of the men was armed and held the security guard at gunpoint while the other men stole the gold. They escaped in another car.

Police are looking for three men in a white Ford Taurus who were last seen heading eastbound across the Bay Bridge.

As people started arriving for work in the Financial District, it was hard to ignore the scene.

"I was kind of surprised, but not really. I mean, the world seems crazier, so it doesn't shock me really," said Mike Ballerini, a contractor.

Towing the SUV out of the lobby proved to be a delicate task. The tow truck operator spent more than an hour trying to move it while people stopped to watch and take pictures.

Construction crews started repair work at first light and the bank released a statement saying the museum would reopen.

The stagecoach on display was not damaged. The gold nuggets were part of the display. People walking by question the logic of stealing this exhibit.

"There wasn't that much there. Sad what society has come to just for little bits of gold," said Cathy Lesser, a Wells Fargo employee.

"This is a great display. It's a historical treasure. Bandits will be bandits, but I hate what they did here," said Clifford Chappell.

According to the museum's website, the stagecoaches on display in the museum were used by the company in the 1860s, shortly after the company was founded in 1852 as a banking and mail delivery service for merchants and
miners who came West during the Gold Rush.

The museum had a collection of gold nuggets from across the West, with some coming from the Calaveras River and the Mariposa River, among other locales.
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