Thieves Strip Museum of Prized Possessions

Skilled burglars looted a Mojave Desert (search) museum of its most prized possessions, including antique dolls and Native American artifacts on loan from local families.

The thieves made sure an alarm system was disabled before clearing out the glass display cases in the Daggett Museum (search), said curator Beryl Bell, who discovered the losses when she went to feed her goldfish on Christmas Day.

"It's really heartbreaking for a small museum," Bell said Wednesday.

Stolen Native American artifacts included a basket appraised at $3,500, a Navajo sash and two clay Acoma pots that had never been appraised but are very valuable, said Leslie Lloyd, the president of the Daggett Historical Society (search), which runs the museum near Barstow.

The thieves also took antique dolls, model trains and other toys, farming implements and examples of rocks from the area, Lloyd said.

She said the burglars left no fingerprints and took steps to disable the alarm system even though it wasn't operational at the time of the break-in.

"This appeared to be a very neat operation and it appeared they had a shopping list," she said.