CA museums raided for stolen items

January 24, 2008 10:49:29 AM PST
Federal agents executed search warrants Thursday at several Southern California museums, looking for stolen antiquities, officials said.Authorities were searching the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A search warrant was also issued for the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena.

A law enforcement source who had been briefed on the matter but spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation said authorities are looking for looted artifacts from Southeast Asia and whether appraisals of the items were inflated for improper tax deductions.

No arrests have been made, authorities said.

Officials videotaped certain exhibits and took notes on legal pads at the Bowers Museum while reporters waited outside. A phone message left with a museum spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, reporters also gathered outside the front doors.

"We are cooperating fully with the investigation," said LACMA spokeswoman Allison Agsten, who declined further comment.

A call to the Pacific Asia Museum was not immediately returned.


Associated Press Writer Gillian Flaccus in Santa Ana contributed to this report.