Egyptian museum gets serious about security
November 30, 1996
Web posted at:6:00 p.m. EST (2300 GMT)
From Correspondent Gayle Young
CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- Two months after a brazen thief almost
walked off with King Tut's golden treasures, the Egyptian
museum is getting serious about security.
The thief hid in a bathroom at closing time, and in the
middle of the night, he pried open some of the poorly locked
display cases housing the famous Tutankhamun artifacts and
stashed a golden dagger and jewelry in the pocket of his blue
He then tried to stroll out of the museum the next morning
with a group of tourists. Fortunately guard Ali Samak was
alerted by curators that the items were missing.
Suspicious, Samak pulled the thief aside and searched him.
"He looked nervous and you could tell by his eyes, that he'd
been up all night," Samak said.
Critics had long complained that Egypt's stunning collection
of ancient treasures was badly guarded. The latest incident
was not the first time thieves managed to spend the night in
The only security system was a bell that warned visitors it
was time to leave -- hardly alarming.
"Almost 50 years" said Ali Hassan of the Egyptian Antiquities
Organization "we are using a bell to close and to open the
museum, something that cannot be accepted from all over the
In recent weeks however, strong metal gates have been
installed in all doorways, and video cameras have been placed
throughout the 100-year-old building. The treasures are
monitored day and night by guards.
Every evening a platoon of dogs sniffs throughout the
exhibits, searching for anyone who may try to hide among the
After his arrest, the thief bragged to local newspapers that
given a second chance he could do it again, hide in the
museum without being detected.
But guards are determined it won't happen again. From now
on, the only bodies left in the museum at closing time, will
be the mummies.
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