FBI Renews Hunt for Bejeweled Swords Once Given to Truman

Ceremonial weapons were taken from display case in 1978
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2021 5:09 PM CDT
FBI Puts Up $10K in Search for Truman Library's Swords
The Truman Library in Independence, Mo., was hit by thieves more than 40 years ago.   (Getty/gnagel)

If you've run across any gold-and-steel ceremonial swords or daggers—inlaid with diamonds and rubies, something rulers might present as a gift to another ruler—the FBI would like a word. The items were taken from the Truman Presidential Library in a smash and grab in 1978, and the FBI is relaunching its investigation, WDAF reports. The Shah of Iran gave one of the swords and a scabbard to President Truman; Saudi Crown Prince Saud presented swords and a dagger to Truman while on a tour of the US in 1947 and received a signed portrait of Truman in return. The library has a photo of the scabbard here. When Truman was in office, presidents could keep some gifts from other nations as long as Congress approved. Partly because he was irked that gifts were scattered at random in the White House, Truman began planning his library. The swords were kept in a glass case in his library's lobby.

In March 1978, two thieves broke into the library before it opened, striking when the security guard was on the other side of the building. An alarm went off when they broke through the front door, per WDAF. They were inside for 45 seconds, putting a padlock on the door to keep the guard from interfering with them, smashing the glass display case and taking the most valuable items before driving away. During the break-in, a woman got out of a car and paced oddly in the parking lot, possibly as a distraction. The FBI asks anyone with information to call its Kansas City, Mo., office or submit a tip here. There's $10,000 in it for anyone whose information helps lead to the stolen items' recovery. The gifts could be worth as much as $1 million. (More Harry Truman stories.)

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