Three men sneaked into the southern quarry area in Upper Egypt governate of Aswan, where they planned to lift the 10-tons Ramesses II statue with a crane.

They were arrested with manual digging equipment and the aforementioned crane, as Egypt’s Public Prosecution annouced on Tuesday.

According to Ahram Online “Following examination of the site, the prosecution found traces of drilling on the three metres high and one metre wide pharaonic statue”.

As the suspects’ phones were investigated, video clips of digging operations and ancient statues via social messaging apps have been found.

“Egypt has lost countless antiquities to looters, both individuals and foreign governments that colonised Egypt in the past. Over the past decade, the country has recovered about 29,000 antiquities found to have been taken abroad through illegitimate means”, Al Jazzeera reports.