Panning for tips: Juneau police seek help finding 160 gold pans stolen from mining musem

In this file photo from November 2011, Gary Gillette and Renee Hughes stand at the Last Chance Mining Museum where they have lived for 20 years.

In this file photo from November 2011, Gary Gillette and Renee Hughes stand at the Last Chance Mining Museum where they have lived for 20 years.

Police want to know who broke into the Last Chance Mining Museum’s mining cars and stole 160 gold pans — and why do they need so many?

“You could sell them, keep them,” Juneau Police Department Lt. Scott Erickson said, trying to answering his own question. He still seemed baffled by the number of pans stolen from two stationary, locked mining cars three months ago at the museum, 1001 Basin Road.

Erickson said the police department’s investigation into the May 17 burglary hasn’t turned up any leads or clues, and well, it’s just plain odd. That’s why Erickson said he decided to highlight the case as the department’s crime of the week on Wednesday.

The burglar opened the mining cars’ doors by breaking chains and locks securing them, but nothing else inside or around the cars was broken, Erickson said. The burglar also made his/her first gold find the night of the theft ­— a half ounce of gold was also missing from a car. The total value of the stolen items is approximately $1,500 (gold pans run on average approximately $10 based on size and materials used at local stores).

Erickson said it isn’t uncommon for a burglary to go unresolved this long in the department, especially when there are no apparent pieces of evidence left behind. Erickson said police are hoping someone in the community will come forward with something that police can use.

There are no known identifying markers on the gold pans, and Erickson said he realizes that only makes the case a harder one to resolve. One of the stolen gold pans, after a few uses in the river, could easily look like any used pan from Fred Meyer or another store.

Police are encouraging anyone with information about the burglary to contact them at 586-0600. To leave an anonymous tip, visit the Juneau Crime Line website, Tipsters are guaranteed anonymity and could receive a reward of up to $1,000.

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or

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