Picasso stolen from museum with no alarm

Fri Dec 21, 2007 2:24pm EST
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By Angus MacSwan

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Thieves who stole a valuable Picasso painting from a Brazilian art museum this week apparently didn't have to work very hard. On Friday, officials admitted there wasn't much of a security system in place at the cash-strapped museum.

Thieves broke into the Sao Paulo Museum of Art -- home to one of Latin America's most important collections -- before dawn on Thursday and grabbed Pablo Picasso's "Portrait of Suzanne Bloch" and Brazilian painter Candido Portinari's "The Coffee Worker."

In just three minutes, they used a hydraulic jack to prise open the main door and a crowbar to smash a glass door, police said.

The museum, known as MASP, had no alarm system and no sensors. Video security cameras captured some of the raid but, since it had no infrared capability, the images were obscure.

Four unarmed guards were changing shift at the time of the robbery.

"It is absurd that the most important museum in Latin America was broken into with a crowbar and a jack," art expert Jones Bergamin was quoted as saying in O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

MASP president Julio Neves said the museum lacked the finances for a good security system.

"We don't have the resources for it. Now, we are going to update. We can improve some equipment," Neves, an architect who has run MASP for the past 10 years, told reporters at an official cultural event.   Continued...