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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Fitzwilliam Jade Heist Goes Crimewatch

Slideshow & Video: CCTV of four men released after Fitzwilliam raid

Striking CCTV images have today been released after thieves plundered the Fitzwilliam Museum of £10 million in Chinese art.

Art thieves smashed through the museum’s security and went into the Chinese room where it took “minutes” to steal 18 jade artefacts from strengthened glass cabinets.

Detectives are keen to trace the people pictured by the cameras following the break-in which happened on Friday, April 13.

The CCTV shows four men walking from Grove Lane towards the back of the museum.

Det Chief Supt Karen Daber said: "I would urge anyone who recognises any of these men to contact police.

"Some people may not feel comfortable speaking to police and I would ask that they consider the anonymous Crimestoppers service.

"We continue to appeal to anyone who has information about the burglary or those responsible."

The images show four figures wearing dark clothing and hoods. One is carrying a bag that police would particularly want to identify.

The face of one of the men in the image has been blurred as officers believe he may be a juvenile.

One of the people captured on camera in Grove Lane, which is at the side of the historic building and the window to the Chinese room, was wearing white gloves.

The burglary took place at about 7.30pm and the offenders are believed to have used a white VW Caddy van to travel to and from the Trumpington Street museum.

CCTV checks revealed the van arriving in Grove Lane at 7.26pm. It then appears on a camera in Trumpington Street, close to Hotel Du Vin, at 7.38pm heading out of the city.

Art experts at the museum have spoken of their sadness after the “lucky” jade treasures were plundered by raiders. Jade is supposed to bring good fortune in Chinese culture.

The images will be shown tonight on BBC1’s Crimewatch programme at 9pm in an appeal for information.

The majority of the stolen treasure was bequeathed to the museum by Oscar Raphael in the 1940s and included six pieces made during the Ming dynasty.

Cambridgeshire Police have refused to comment on security at the museum but said thieves are believed to have been in the building for “a matter of minutes”.

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