NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Historical Society is turning to the public in the hopes of retrieving a stolen artifact.
On Nov. 11 an unknown person or persons broke into the Historical Society Museum, 195 Water St., and made off with a wooden replica of a ship.
Historical Society President Wendy Murphy said the person or persons who broke into the historical society spent approximately 90 seconds in the building and only stole the ship.
“It was a very focused theft,” Murphy said.
Naugatuck police spokesman Lt. Bryan Cammarata said the case is still open and the investigation is ongoing.
Murphy said the ship was a replica of a boat from the Mounds Flea Fleet, a fleet of seven small ships owned by the Peter Paul Company. It was donated to the historical society by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, according to the historical society’s monthly newsletter.
“During World War II we couldn’t get coconuts for the Mounds bars. These boats were designed to go to South America and get coconuts,” Murphy said.
Because of their size, the ships were ignored by the German U-Boats patrolling the waters, Murphy explained. However, the crews of the ships were bringing back information on the German U-Boat’s movements in addition to the coconuts.
Murphy said the boat was unique because it was handmade and a one of a kind replica.
However, Murphy said that it would only be appealing to those who either were interested in ships or had a history with the Peter Paul Company.
“It would only appeal to someone with a personal interest. It would be hard to sell on the black market,” Murphy said.
According to the newsletter, the Board of Directors decided to go public with the details of the theft in case the perpetrator has tried to sell the boat or feels that it is safe to display the model.
Murphy said since the theft employees of the historical society have been taking extra precautions.
“We have two people do double checks on the doors and locks, and make sure everything is locked before exiting,” Murphy said. “We’ve been in contact with our alarm company to see if any changes need to be made to system.”
This is not the first time that the historical society has had to deal with a theft.
Murphy said around five years ago a woman stole items from multiple museums, including the Naugatuck Historical Society.
Murphy said the items stolen from the historical society at that time included the family bible of Charles Goodyear. All the items were returned when the woman was caught, she said.