Three weeks later, law enforcement is still hunting for information that could lead to the recovery of a rare and historic gold bar ripped off from a Key West museum.
Concurrently, the folks at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, where the 74.85-ounce bar had been on display for more than 20 years, have upped their reward offer from $10,000 to $25,000.
The bar, valued at $550,000, was taken about 5:15 p.m. Aug. 18 from a case designed to let people pick it up but not be able to remove it. It was recovered from the Santa Margarita shipwreck in 1980 by the late Key West shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher and his crew while they searched for the Margarita and Nuestra Senora de Atocha galleons.
Now barstool philosophers throughout the Keys are still trying to figure out how the two suspects A) Got the bar out of its protective display case; and B) What they did with it.
The discussions range from conjuring images of the classic heist/caper flick "Ocean's 11" to those who are convinced the treasure has been added to some billionaire collector's private display somewhere in Europe. Kate Baker, who works at the museum, said "we don't have any additional information" to offer.
The case isn't some run-of-the-mill Plexiglas container: "It's a kind of a high-tech form of plastic," she said. Asked how it was broken, Baker said only "part" of it was breached, "the part that was holding the bar."
Over the weekend, Key West police released additional surveillance photos of the two men sought in connection with the theft. Those images are digitally enhanced and of better quality than those initially circulated.
The man who reached in and took the gold bar is estimated to be about 6 feet tall. He may have a tattoo on his left elbow. At the time of the theft, he was wearing a dark green T-shirt with lettering on the front, and long pants.
The second man is thought to be shorter, perhaps 5-foot-6. He was also wearing a dark T-shirt and cargo shorts, and had on a ball cap and sunglasses. Both men have dark hair.
Anyone with information about the theft should call the Key West Police Department's Criminal Investigations Unit at 809-1015 or Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys at (800) 346-TIPS, or go to www.tipsubmit.com. Tipsters whose information leads to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward, and tipsters can remain anonymous.