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Dog Didn’t Bark, Police Had Advance Tip

November 9, 1993

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ The solution to Sweden’s biggest art robbery could lie in the question once posed by the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes: Why didn’t the dog bark in the night?

A guard with a dog was on duty when thieves broke through the weak roof of the Museum of Modern Art on Sunday night and lifted $52 million of framed Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque paintings, as well as a Picasso bronze sculpture, out through the hole they made.

They made a clean getaway from the museum, situated on a central Stockholm island with only one bridge, before the robbery was discovered Monday morning.

″The night guard was there, with a dog,″ museum press secretary Anna Rappe said Tuesday. ″What nobody understands is why the dog wasn’t more attentive, that they could slip through and pass the dog.″

In the Holmes story ″Silver Blaze,″ the dog didn’t bark during the theft of a horse because it knew the thief.

Another question: Why didn’t the museum alarm go off?

It also was disclosed Tuesday that the thieves carried out the crime despite a tip-off to the police three weeks in advance.

″The security gave a tip three weeks ago″ that a museum robbery was planned,″ said Ms. Rappe. ″That gave us reason to change our routines. But it didn’t prevent this from happening.″

She said police were questioning all museum employees.

Security experts speculated that the stolen art works, which were uninsured because they are state property, are too well known to be sold. The experts suggested that the museum may try to ransom them from the thieves.

One lead could be the thief who stole a $875,000 Matisse painting, ″The Garden,″ from the Stockholm museum in 1987. According to newspaper reports, museum security chief Kjell Hestrell has been contacted by people claiming to have the Matisse who are trying to sell it back to the museum.

Museum director Bjorn Springfeldt said the thieves - who used metal shears and a saw to cut through the ceiling and land in the main exhibit room - had ″cut the heart out of″ the Picasso collection.

Swedish newspapers compared the robbery to the 1954 French film, ″Rififi,″ by director Jules Dassin. That film is famous for a 20-minute sequence, without dialogue, in which thieves cut through a ceiling to steal jewels. Dassin also directed the 1964 English-language film, ″Topkapi,″ with a similar scene.

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