Brazilian museum had no insurance, no alarms

Unarmed guards and blurry surveillance cameras only prevention measures


SAO PAULO, Brazil -- (AP) Brazil's premier modern art museum had no insurance on paintings by Pablo Picasso and Candido Portinari stolen in a brazen burglary, the museum's spokesman said on Saturday.

Three thieves, armed with nothing more than a crow bar and a car jack, took three minutes to break into the Sao Paulo Museum of Art before dawn Thursday and steal Picasso's "Portrait of Suzanne Bloch," and Portinari's "O Lavrador de Cafe."

"None of the museum's 8,000 works of art are insured," Eduardo Cosomano said by telephone. "Insuring all them would be financially unviable."

Cosomano said that to protect its collection, the museum has always relied on "unarmed guards patrolling the interior of the museum 24 hours a day," and security cameras which on Thursday produced only blurred images of the heist.

"Alarms and movement sensors have never been part of our security system," Cosomano said, contradicting earlier police reports that said the alarms failed to go off. "Obviously we will now have to rethink our entire security system."

Police have not commented on the investigation's progress.