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15 May 2012, 10:57 | Updated: 15 May 2012, 11:09
A six hundred year old metal jug, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, has been stolen from Luton's Stockwood Discovery Centre museum.
The Wenlok Jug nearly ended up going to the United States, until £750,000 was raised in 2005 to keep it in the UK.
The jug had been in a high security display cabinet when it was taken from Luton's Stockwood Discovery Centre between 11pm and 11.25pm on Saturday 12 May 2012.
The bronze jug is a very rare example of metalwork that can be associated with royalty from the 1400s. It is 31.5cm in height, weighs 6.1kg and is decorated with coats of arms, badges and is inscribed with the words "MY LORD WENLOK."
Karen Perkins, Director of Museums at Luton Borough Council, said: "This is an extremely serious and upsetting situation.
"The Wenlok Jug is a nationally significant medieval object, which came close to being lost to the UK when it went up for sale with Sotheby's in May 2005.
"However, a temporary export ban provided the opportunity to raise funds to secure the purchase of the Jug. Due to the fundraising work undertaken in Luton and the generosity of funders and donors, the Jug was able to be purchased and to remain in the UK.
"We are extremely proud that the Wenlok Jug is part of the collections at Stockwood Discovery Centre and are working extremely closely with police and investigators to do all we can to recover it. Should anyone have any information about this theft, I would ask that they please contact Bedfordshire Police right away."
Police have launched an investigation and Scenes of Crime Officers have visited the scene to complete a forensic examination.
DC Tracy Hall wants to speak to anyone who has information about the whereabouts of the jug or anyone who may have information about those responsible for the burglary.
Anyone with information can contact Bedfordshire Police using their non-emergency number 101.