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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thieves Strike Prosecutor's Office

MTA guard talking to a man Thursday outside the Proscutor General's Office.
City police have detained a man suspected of pulling off a daring burglary Saturday night of the central Moscow headquarters of the Prosecutor General's Office, a police source said Thursday.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was instructed not to discuss the incident, confirmed only that a suspect in the burglary had been detained. He declined to give any other details.

But Komsomolskaya Pravda, citing a source, reported Thursday that the burglars ransacked six offices in the building on Bolshaya Dmitrovka and made off with a bizarre assortment of booty: 100,000 rubles ($3,900) in cash, a television, jewelry, a collection of Zippo lighters, and Chanel perfume.

The report said the burglars were believed to have climbed in an open window on an upper floor after scaling scaffolding that had been erected outside the building to facilitate repairs. There was no scaffolding set up next to the building Thursday afternoon.

An employee discovered that the offices had been looted after arriving at work Sunday, the report said.

A Prosecutor General's Office spokeswoman said she could not confirm the report. But a source there told Interfax late Thursday that two suspects were detained shortly after an attempted break-in.

Nothing had been stolen from the building, and the City Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal investigation, the source told Interfax.

The source confirmed that the robbers used scaffolding to scale the side of the building.

Communist State Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin, who once occupied a senior post in the Soviet Prosecutor General's Office, said it was unlikely the purported burglars were "looking for anything serious."

"I just think they wanted to see whether they could do it," he said by telephone.

If they wanted to steal more than perfume and lighters, they were in the wrong place, Ilyukhin said.

"I can tell you that there is nothing of much value in that building," Ilyukhin said. "They keep physical records of all the interesting stuff at other offices, where the security is much more advanced."

Ilyukhin said he had been inside the building on many occasions and that a burglary there would be an indication of how "lazy" the police guarding it have become recently.

"They just yawned right through this," Ilyukhin said.

Another person who frequented the building at one time is self-exiled businessman and Kremlin foe Boris Berezovsky.

"I have been there on more than one occasion but can't comment on how easy it would be to break into it," Berezovsky said by telephone from London. "The whole situation just adds to my impression that everyone in Moscow has gone mad."

Renovation of government buildings has led to unfortunate consequences in the past. In July 2006, workers doing repairs on the Interior Ministry headquarters near the Oktyabrskaya metro station in central Moscow moved safes containing classified documents from inside the building to the courtyard.

No one returned the safes to their original offices and they were taken away to a metal collection center after being mistaken for scrap metal, senior ministry officials were quoted in the media as saying.

There have been other notably creative heists involving government agencies. In April 2006, thieves used a mobile crane to lift a massive iron container of archived tax returns into their truck and then drove off with the paperwork.