Stolen historic rifle recovered 50 years after it was taken from Beauvoir
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A decade-long FBI investigation into stolen historical artifacts leads to the recovery of a rifle taken from Beauvoir a half-century ago.
The stolen firearm is the 1847 Mississippi, Charles Gibbs rifle stolen from the museum in the 1970s.
The gun used in the Mexican-American War was recovered from a home in Delaware. Numerous other artifacts stolen from museums across the country were also found in the home.
Assistant U.S. Attorney from the Eastern Pennsylvania District K.T. Newton said this case should be a lesson for museums.
“The hardest part was since they were stolen a half-century ago, but now take photographs and give descriptions,” Newton said. “We hope it doesn’t happen, but if something is stolen, the more details and photographs we have of the items, it’s going to enable us to get them back to where they belong.”
At the time the rifle was stolen, it was on loan to Beauvoir from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
“It will eventually come back to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and we want to do the best we can to get it back on loan to our museum so we can show it in our soldiers’ gallery,” Callie Bunter, Beauvoir special programs manager.
The staff at Beauvoir are especially thankful the rifle was recovered since much of the museum’s historical collection was washed away during Hurricane Katrina.
“A lot of artifacts get stolen through time, and some of the sales are a black market,” Bunter said. “It gives me hope that potentially one day any artifacts might be recovered and returned to the museums they belong to, to enhance the exhibits.”
The FBI held a repatriation ceremony earlier this week to return many of the stolen items to where they belong.
A similar ceremony will take place when the historic rifle is returned to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
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