"Taking advantage of Egypt's political upheaval, thieves have gone on a treasure hunt with a spree of illegal digging, preying on the country's ancient pharaonic heritage.
Illegal digs near ancient temples and in isolated desert sites have swelled a staggering 100-fold over the past 16 months since a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak's 29-year regime and security fell apart in many areas as police simply stopped doing their jobs. The pillaging comes on top of a wave of break-ins last year at archaeological storehouses — and even at Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, the country's biggest repository of pharaonic artifacts...
The night of Jan. 28, thieves broke into the Egyptian Museum, located on the edge of Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the anti-regime uprising and scene of some of the bloodiest clashes between protesters and Mubarak's hated police. The robbers made off with 51 pieces that were on display — of which 29 have since been recovered. The most valuable stolen piece, a statue of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, was found by a 16-year-old protester and his family returned it to the museum, the antiquities ministry said at the time."