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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thieves Burgle, Cook At Peace Corps Office

The Moscow headquarters of the U.S. Peace Corps was burgled over the weekend by hungry thieves, who not only stole cash from the office safe but also a 5-kilogram piece of meat from the fridge, which they cooked and ate in the course of the heist.


"The thieves sawed through the bars on the ground-floor window and stole $25,000 and 20 million rubles from the safe," said Andreu Kisilev, spokesman for the Moscow Police Department. "The fact that they also ate dinner suggests that they were familiar with the office. They knew where the food was and where the oven was."


The robbery was discovered when Russian staff came to work Monday morning to find the office door open and "an amount of cash" missing from the safe, said U.S. Embassy press attach? Richard Hoagland.


"We have no reason to believe that this was anything other than a criminal act," he said. "We are working closely with Russian authorities."


Hoagland said he could not confirm for "security reasons" the amount of cash stolen or why the cash was in the office. Nor would Carol Chapel, director of the Peace Corps Russian program, comment.


On Wednesday evening, the sawed-through bars on the ground-floor window of an apartment block on Khlebny pereulok, a quiet side street near Novy Arbat, had been put back into place with wire.


Police said the robbery showed signs of being an inside job.


"[The burglars] could only have been so relaxed if they knew they would not be disturbed," said an officer at the 2nd Central Police District headquarters, who did not wish to be identified.


"The office had no alarm systems and was empty from Friday evening until Monday morning."


He said the thieves had forced the safe with tools from the drivers' room adjacent to the cashier's office, bending the front of the cash drawer down, taking as much money as could be reached through the gap and leaving cash at the back of the drawer untouched.


"The burglars' [dinner] will make it easier for investigators to find them," said Kisilev. "It shows they had a relationship with the office. I think it will be possible to solve this case."


Kisilev could not comment on whether the thieves had washed their dishes.


Hoagland said the first he had heard of the dinner clue was through a press report Wednesday.


"Five pounds of meat microwaved -- it must have tasted awful," he said.