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African-American Artifact Stolen From Museum

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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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CATONSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — Police are searching for an important piece of African-American history stolen from a Baltimore County museum. It’s also worth a lot of cash.

Derek Valcourt explains what happened.

At the Benjamin Banneker Museum in Catonsville, a smashed monitor is one of the only visible signs of the burglary there on Dec. 19. What you can’t see is the valuable piece of art those burglars stole: a quilt on loan, hanging along with an exhibit from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

“The quilt documents the early Maryland law of Maryland as a free state,” said museum director Steve Lee.

On one side, there’s an Eagle carrying a chain with arms outstretched. On the other side is the state’s 1860 Code of Law, fully stitched.

“It’s a great loss, not just for the museum, not just for Maryland, but it’s a loss for the national collection of art and history,” said Lee.

Investigators say the burglars were able to get in by breaking through a glass pane in the back door of the museum. Although there were surveillance cameras inside the museum, police are asking for your help to find the quilt.

“Our detectives are currently investigating some leads; however, we believe that this is such a unique item that anyone who would have seen it would recognize it instantly,” said Detective Cathy Batton, Baltimore County Police.

Museum officials hope anyone who has seen it will do the right thing.

“I hope in the true spirit of the holidays…they will return this treasure back for the public good,” said Lee.

The quilt is considered valuable, though police and museum officials did not want to estimate its worth.

Anyone with information on the quilt is urged to call Baltimore County police or you can become eligible for a reward by calling Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP.

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