WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Two British teenagers were arrested in Poland after police found in their backpacks items believed to be stolen from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.
On Monday, museum security guards notified Polish police of the suspected theft of buttons, a fragment of a hair clipper and a piece of a spoon that belonged to prisoners of Birkenau. Police questioned the teens, 17 and 18, with the assistance of a translator.
The teens maintained their innocence, according to Deputy Inspector Mariusz Ciarka of the Malopolska police, but remain in police custody. They are charged with “misappropriation of objects that are artifacts of special cultural significance,” the Krakow Gazette reported.
Ciarka told the local media that the teens do not appear to realize the gravity of their alleged crime and are unfamiliar with “the dramatic history associated with Auschwitz. In contrast, museum staff are particularly sensitive to these types of incidents.”
If found guilty, the teens could be jailed for one to 10 years, though a fine and probation are the more likely punishment.