Painting stolen from historic Paterson Museum

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Police are investigating an art heist at a New Jersey museum famed for persevering the state's industrial past.

The 170-year-old Great Falls painting is worth thousands of dollars and is just one of the many important pieces on display at the historic Paterson Museum.

Authorities have not ruled out the possibility that the robbery was an inside job, because there were no obvious signs of a break-in.

The painting dates back to the 1840s and was supposed to go on display this week after being loaned by a private collector. It was taken from inside the museum director's office.

"We have a very good record," Giacomo DeStefano said. "We haven't lost anything that belongs to anyone else. This is one of the few incidents in our history which, unfortunately, it's happened."

The painting went missing sometime last week, when Election Day and Veterans Day made for a shortened work schedule. DeStefano didn't notice the theft until Monday.

"It is an embarrassment," he said. "We take our jobs very seriously. We're the keepers of these archives. Not everything is worth millions of dollars, but the historical value, you know, you can't calculate it."

The artist is unknown, and the painting has an estimated value of $9,000. As for museum security, there are no cameras inside or outside of the building that houses some of the city's most important artifacts from its productive past.

"I'm hoping someone returns the painting to us," DeStefano said. "They can just drop it off, put it on the front lawn, just get it back to us please."

The mayor has committed to putting cameras inside and outside the museum, at a cost of $10,000 to $20,000.
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