Public Gem Mine Robbed

Vt. Mica is the oldest tourmaline mine in the country

Thieves attacked the front of the nation's oldest tourmaline mine last weekend in Paris, Maine, chiseling out chunks of stone they may have hoped were precious gems, its owner says.

Someone took a hammer and chisel to the front entrance of the Mt. Mica mine and carved out sections of pink and purple tourmaline embedded in the rock.

Owner Gary Freeman suspects the thieves thought the tourmaline was valuable, but the section they stole was not gem-quality.

"I would imagine they saw 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and expected to see granite balls rolling out and gold and mummies and all sorts of things," said Freeman.

He says they defaced an entire area of the entrance — a wall used largely as an educational exhibit during visitor tours.

Mt. Mica has been open since 1820, making it the oldest tourmaline mine in the country.

Freeman says he will now have to re-think the public access he allows to gem and mineral clubs. "It hurts," he says. "They really were not sophisticated, but they did damage."

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