The royal jewels that were stolen from the Strängnäs Cathedral in central Sweden in a brazen heist that made global headlines last year have been found, according to a police statement. The invaluable items were found by a security guard a rubbish bin in the Stockholm suburb of Åkersberga.
This news was met with joy in Strängnäs.
"I really shouldn't be able to talk, because I have my chin down at my knees", an elated Johan Dalman, the bishop of Strängnäs, told national broadcaster SVT. "I believe they realised that they cannot sell the jewels", he added.
According to Dalman, the jewels have great historical value.
"They are important puzzle bits from our history, and if they are gone, a big chunk of history will disappear as well", Dalman told SVT.
To a local newspaper, Dalman reacted with a simple Hallelujah.
Priest Christoffer Lundgren is happy and relieved that the collection was found.
"This is a good news for Strängnäs and for the entire Swedish people", Lundgren told SVT.
"It is gratifying that the royal collection in Strangnas Cathedral appears to have been found", the Church of Sweden tweeted. "Thank you to everyone who worked on returning these cultural treasures".
A man, whose blood was found at the scene of the crime, is currently on trial. However, the hearing was interrupted after the prosecutor confirmed in court that the missing jewels may have been found.
The 22-year-old suspect has admitted to stealing both a bicycle and a boat that were used as the thieves' getaway vehicles, but denies any involvement in the theft itself. So far, he remains the only suspect who has been identified and charged, however he has refused to answer questions about other potential suspects. The trial will resume on 15 February.
Previously, experts voiced their fears that the stolen jewels could have been smelted for the sake of gold and thus completely destroyed.
The crowns were made for the burial of King Karl IX and his wife Kristina and date back to the early 1600s. A royal orb was stolen alongside the burial regalia, and the gold jewels are decorated with silver and pearls. The total value of the trophy was estimated at about SEK 65 million ($7 million).
Strängnäs is the seat of a municipality with the same name and the episcopal see of the Diocese of Strängnäs; it has about 13,000 inhabitants. Prominently located on a hilltop, Strängnäs Cathedral, completed in 1340, is an important landmark.