Jack Roland Murphy was from California and loved surfing. He loved it so much that he was able to pursue his boyhood dream and opened his own surf and scuba shop in Florida. Apparently his other boyhood dream was to possess rare and expensive gemstones. He was known to use his love of the sea and athletic ability to break into waterfront mansions and steal jewelry and artwork. He usually made his escape by boat.
On October 29, 1964, Murph the Surf took his life of crime to a new level. He had recently visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He saw the extremely lax security and figured that it was a nice place to visit but a better place to rob. Besides, they had an exhibition of the famous gemstones including the Star of India, a gigantic, nearly flawless sapphire.
Murph and his two accomplices, Allan Kuhn and Roger Clark set out to get their prize. Murph and Kuhn entered the museum through a fourth floor window, which was routinely left open. Clarke stayed outside with a radio to alert them in case the cops showed up. The building’s burglar alarm was not operational and they merely climbed the fence, scampered up the fire escape, and went in. Inside, they were delighted to find that the batteries were dead in the security system that protected the Star of India. They could take their time. Smashing one display case after another, the thieves were able to pocket almost half a million dollars worth of jewels including the Midnight Star Sapphire , The DeLong Star Ruby, and the Eagle Diamond.
The crew had rented a penthouse suite at the Cambridge House Hotel, not far from the museum. The staff at the hotel was probably already raised up when a bunch of surfer dudes rented their finest suite. When Murph the Surf and company started celebrating their recent fortune with lavish parties, and the hotel staff saw the headlines about the burglary, they tipped off the cops.
The crew was quickly arrested by the NYPD and most of the precious stones were recovered. It was never determined what happened to the Eagle Diamond, but it probably went to a fence who cut it up to avoid detection. The crew plead guilty and were each sentenced to three years.