Thieves stole around 1,000 relics from museums and archeological sites across Egypt since protests against the government broke out in January, Egypt's minister for antiquities Zahi Hawass said Sunday in a newspaper interview.
"We are investigating all the incidents to find the items. Up until now we have identified many culprits, criminals who were looking for gold or mummies and who lacked knowledge of the value of the items they stole," he told Spanish daily El Mundo.
"They were not organised, they lived near the archeological sites where the objects were kept. They would take advantage of the night to enter the archeological sites and pillage," he added.
"About 1,000 objects were stolen, none of them major items. There is an inventory of everything and it will be difficult for the items to leave the country."
The inventory of all the items that were stolen during the uprising and the weeks of unrest that followed will be given to UNESCO, the UN cultural agency, Hawass said.
The tomb of Hetep-ka at Saqqara and the tomb of Em-pi at Giza as well as the Egyptian museum in Cairo, which houses most of the King Tutankhamen collection, were among the places targeted by thieves, he added.
Hawass was named minister of antiquities last month. He had served as head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and later became minister of state under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.