JOHANNESBURG Thieves stole seven replicas of the golden World Cup trophy from FIFA's headquarters in South Africa, police and soccer officials said on Tuesday.
Thieves have targeted players and journalists during the tournament, but so far it has been relatively crime-free. Security was a big concern for organisers of the event due to South Africa's frighteningly high rates of violent crime.
"Seven replicas of the World Cup were stolen and several sweaters. Police are looking into it," national police chief Bheki Cele told reporters.
FIFA, which says it is happy with the standard of policing at the tournament so far, said the miniature trophies were stolen from a storage room at the organisation's offices in Sandton, Johannesburg.
The trinkets, which are worth about $255 each, are normally used as gifts.
"(They) were taken from a storage room at FIFA headquarters in Sandton. There is no sign of a break-in at all and investigations are ongoing," a spokesman said.
Eager to change its crime-ridden image, South Africa has set up 56 special World Cup courts to deal swiftly with cases involving visitors to soccer's biggest spectacle.
In the latest ruling on Monday, five hotel workers at the England team's hotel were sentenced for stealing items including a FIFA gold medal, cash and clothing from the players.
(Additional reporting by Peroshni Govender, editing by Jon Bramley and Ken Ferris)