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Brazen Gastown gem heist nets rare $500,000 stone 0

By Nick Eagland, 24 hours Vancouver

A thief made off with this rare piece of ammolite, valued at around $500,000, after smashing the window of a gem store in Gastown on Dec. 20. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

A thief made off with this rare piece of ammolite, valued at around $500,000, after smashing the window of a gem store in Gastown on Dec. 20. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Someone may be about to get a whopper of a Christmas gift after a thief made off with a $500,000 gemstone following an early morning smash-and-grab in Gastown.

Police revealed Monday the colourful gem, a rare 11-inch piece of ammolite, was stolen from the front window display of Rocks & Gems on Water Street in Gastown around 4 a.m. on Friday.

Owner Carmen Wang said police are reviewing surveillance footage from his store and nearby businesses. He lamented the chances of recovering the fossil are slim because so much time has now passed since the theft.

“This is called a national treasure of Canada and not many people know the value of it,” Wang said. “I want to get it back. I don’t want them to smash it because it’s really a treasure of Canada. It’s not personal now, it belongs to Canada.”

Gemologist Harold Lindsay of Imperial Gem Lab said ammolite is primarily mined by Albertan company Korite International and heavily marketed in the Caribbean and Asia.

“It’s quite a soft stone and it can’t be used as a gemstone without some sort of protective cap on top of the stone, unless it’s set in a pendant or doesn’t receive much wear,” said Lindsay. “I would think they would probably sell it as a specimen, rather than break it up.”

Vancouver Police Department spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham said the “prehistoric fossil” had “significant historical value.” He added it was the only item stolen and may have been a crime of opportunity.

“Obviously, it has a limited retail value because it’s fairly distinct, so it would be someone that would be a collector, possibly, that would look into purchasing something like this as it is such a unique item or a unique gem.”

Ammolite is the official gemstone of Alberta and must be registered before it can be removed from Canada.

Police are asking anyone with information about the whereabouts of the gem to phone 604-717-3321.

 

 

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