Virgiia State Police said yesterday they have no suspects in the weekend theft of at least $86,000 worth of antique silver from historic Gunston Hall in southern Fairfax County.
"As far as suspects go, right now, we suspect everybody," State Trooper Craig Carmen said. The thieves entered the home of colonial statesman George Mason some time before dawn by using a crowbar on a side door, the trooper said.
Although the house, now a state museum, is protected by a burglar alarm, police said the alarm failed to sound and the silver was not discovered missing until a groundsman opened the building Sunday morning.
Investigation said they have not ruled out the possibility that the theft was an "inside job," or that the burglars may have approached the house, about 15 miles south of Alexandria from the Potomac River. "We just don't know if they came by boat or by car," Carmen said.
Gunston Hall curator Bennie Brown estimated the value of the silver, if melted down, at less than "1 percent of its real value." Twenty-five pieces, all but one sterling, were taken. With the exception of a Paul Revere porringer, these were all 18th century English silver, mostly tea services, candelabra and silverward.
Though the house is filled with valuables, including 200-year-old paintings, precious china and crystal and collections of colonial documents and correspondence, the burglars removed only certain pieces of silver.
According to Trooper Carmen, most of the missing pieces were on display and in plain sight.
It was the first burglary at the plantation turned museum. "We've had small things disappear from time to time," said Brown, "but never anything of this caliber."