This week in history: A jewelry theft at Navy Pier

The Chicago landmark celebrated its 104th birthday this week. Here’s a look back at a jewelry heist that took place at the pier in 1978.

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[4/27 JACKSON NAVY PIER 1]4/26/97---NAVY PIER. Misc exterior photos of Navy Pier and artists setting up sculptures for Pier Walk 97.Photo by Brian Jackson/Sun-Times neg no 97-04-607 JE

Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s favorite tourist destinations, celebrated its 104th birthday this week. But for those planning to visit the historic pier this week, consider this a reminder to leave the diamonds and rubies at home.

A black carrying case containing $140,000 worth of jewels was reported stolen from Navy Pier in the Jan. 16, 1978 edition of the Chicago Daily News.

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The case belonged to Sid Birzon, who told Chicago police that the jewelry was brought onto the Pier “for display at a housewares show.” It had been kept in a security room prior to the theft, which was believed to have taken place between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

So what was taken?

“Included in the loss were 132 diamond rings worth about $10,000; 54 14-karat gold chains; diamond bracelets; broaches; pearls, and diamond pendants,” the report said.

There are no subsequent reports in the paper determining whether the jewels were ever found, so let this be a lesson to anyone planning to ride the Ferris wheel wearing a string of pearls.

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