Museum Guard Charged With Titanic Theft

The security guard who first reported an address

book missing from the Titanic exhibit at the Museum of Science and

Industry has been charged with stealing the artifact, Chicago

police said today.

Joshua Jackson, 22, of Chicago was charged with felony theft after police searched his apartment Wednesday night and found the book — apparently undamaged — in a box in Jackson’s bedroom.

Jackson stole the book from the exhibit while doing a routine security check, police said. Two screws securing a clear case around the leather book were removed by Jackson during a regular security check, police said.

“We began surveillance of Jackson shortly after the theft,” said Police Cmdr. Walter Green, who said police believe Jackson acted alone. That surveillance ended when Jackson let police search his apartment, Green said.

“It wasn’t hidden,” said Green.

Book Appears Undamaged The book was being inspected by experts today. Joel Asprooth, a museum vice president and chief financial officer, said he looked at the book “and it was all in once piece and it appeared to be undamaged.” Jackson reported the address book missing on the morning of July 26. Museum security officials conducted their own search before notifying Chicago police several hours later. Police said Jackson made no attempt to sell the artifact.

Jackson was hired by Levy Security Corp. on May 1, and had worked at the exhibit for about 30 days, according to Dan Shomon, a spokesman for the Chicago-based company. Shomon said Jackson, like other employees, was hired after a background check that is far more rigorous than what is required by the state. He said the company checks applicants’ driving record and criminal background, and conducts a drug test.

Shomon said Jackson passed all the tests and that he has no criminal convictions.

Shomon would not discuss security at the exhibit. But the museum’s president and chief operating officer said he was satisfied with what has been done to “step up” security at the exhibit.

More Than 300 Relics The book is part of “Titanic: The Exhibition,” which includes more than 300 relics recovered from the site of the sunken ship.

This particular book may have belonged to a man named Howard Irwin, and was found in a trunk containing other items belonging to Irwin, said Norman.

As the story goes, said Norman, Irwin was neither one of those who survived the 1912 tragedy nor one of the 1,500 passengers and crew members who died. “His luggage went on board but he missed the boat,” said Norman. “He got in a fight and got knocked out and ended up on another ship somewhere.”

The exhibit opened in February and runs through Sept. 4.