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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Does Fire hide Inside Job ??

Dealer sues after theft of antiques from lorry

AN antiques dealer is suing her removals firm and insurance company for more than £300,000 after furs, jewellery and antiques were stolen from a lorry.

Maria Roth moved from Fulbourn to Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire in 2004 and negotiated with Segrave Removals of Fulbourn to collect her goods on a Friday, store them over the weekend and deliver them to a flat in Stratford on the Monday.

She paid the company £1,380 plus VAT to have the goods removed and £493.13 for £250,000 worth of insurance cover from Helvetia International.

But disaster struck when the lorry containing her possessions was stolen from the company's storage yard in Fulbourn. It was later found burned out in a lay-by in Lincolnshire with a few of her goods remaining - but these were burned or otherwise damaged.

Now Ms Roth, formerly of High Street, Fulbourn, has issued a writ for damages totalling more than £300,000 in the High Court.

Segrave Removals ceased trading two years ago, its assets were sold and the name has been taken by a new company, Segrave Removals and Storage.

Ms Roth contacted Segrave Removals on March 2, 2004, and was told the company would be able to pick up the goods on March 11 and 12, store them over the weekend in a fully alarmed and secure store and deliver them to Stratford on March 14.

She was given a quote of £1,380 plus VAT for the job, which included £172.50 plus insurance premium tax (IPT) for up to £50,000 of insurance. Ms Roth paid a further £300 plus IPT for an addition £200,000 worth of cover from Helvetia International.

Her possessions were duly collected from her home and nearby shop and put in three containers on a lorry which was then stolen over the weekend.

Police managed to recover some of her possessions but many of those were damaged and the value or cost of repair totals £52,008.

Ms Roth's solicitors claim Segrave Removals failed to alarm or secure its store properly and that Helvetia International has wrongly refused to pay £250,000 insurance. Her solicitors claim interest owed on the £250,000 insurance pay-out alone is already at £58,734.

Art Hostage comments:

If Police acted in a pro-active manner towards Art and Antiques theft they may recovered some of the stolen Antiques and Jewellery from this lorry.

Police would then be in a position to declare whether the loser was involved or how the theft occurred.

The Insurance company would then be forced to make payment.

Unfortunately Police do not afford Art and Antiques theft priority and will not allow the private sector to investigate properly.

This leaves the shadow of suspicion cast upon Maria Roth and gives the insurance company a reason not to pay out.

I am wondering why jewellery, furs and small valuable items was included in this load and not taken by Maria Roth as hand luggage for its personal protection?

Burning out stolen lorry loads is not that common and is either a case of professionalism by the thieves or to confuse Police as to what was stolen, thereby making the sale of the stolen antiques easier.

Police could have used this to their advantage by claiming the whole load of antiques, furs and jewellery was lost, thus smoking out the stolen items into the legitimate antiques market.

I bet if Police were to look hard enough they would find some of these stolen items, sadly however, they would had been sold many times over by now.
Sorry to keep blaming the Traveller community for some art thefts but I am told of a link between Travellers in the Cotswolds and Travellers in Lincolnshire/Newark.
Whilst some in the Travelling community do engage in art related crime, there is a whole plethora of art criminals nationwide, controlled from Brighton, Sussex, (as the major clearing house), that engage in organised art crime.
Because of the favourable reward for risk when committing art crime, it has become somewhat the crime of choice for a whole new breed of otherwise petty thieves.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Bend-Over Police Can't See The Wood from The Trees !!

Antique chairs stolen

TWO valuable French antique chairs were stolen from a Stockbridge art gallery.

Police think two men forced their way into The Bakhtiyer Gallery through a window at the front of the High Street shop.

They took the two cream chairs, which had flower tapestry seats and are valued at £3,500, from inside.

Officers think the men left in a 4x4 vehicle and headed towards Salisbury on the A30.

Gallery owner, Masoud Mazaheri-Asadi, said the High Street's CCTV system showed the break-in clearly.

"The glass is quite thick so they didn't really break it, they just shattered it, but the frame in the end gave way and fell into the gallery.

"They walked in very quickly and took the pair of French chairs, which are circa 1850 and worth £3,500," he said.

He said it pained him to have any of his antiques stolen.

Mr Mazaheri-Asadi added: "Stockbridge is a lovely place with wonderful galleries and we want to be able to give people nice antiques, it's a shame some idiots like this have to spoil it."

PC Aaron Sawyer, of Andover police station, said: "The thieves were selective and took only two items of high value.

"Police are interested in any vehicles or people that may have been seen in suspicious circumstances in the days leading up to the incident."

Any witnesses to the break-in, which happened at about 12.40am on August 20, are asked to contact PC Sawyer at Andover police station on 0845 045 45 45, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Art Hostage comments:

U'm, they used a 4x4, were last seen heading for Salisbury on the A30.

Well it is not Rocket Science to realise there is a large Traveller camp on this route and perhaps Police should check the 4x4 vehicles parked there for a match?

Who knows if Police were to act with hast they may even recover the chairs before they are sold at ---- market Saturday.

Sadly Police don't give art and antiques theft priority which leads one to wonder if Andover Police should be renamed "Bend-Over Police" as they seem to be allowing Antiques theft to happen Andover Fist !!

Upon another note, it is interesting to see Multi-cultural Britain stretches to the Boon-docks.

The Antiques dealer who lost these chairs is called Mr Masoud Mazahri-Asadi, and his gallery is called The Bakhtiyer Gallery, historically the dealer would be Smith, Brown and the Gallery called Georgian House, English Country House or just plain Stockbridge Gallery.

Masoud, do yourself a favour and check out the 4x4's housed at the Traveller camp, if you want your chairs back you will have to do the ground work before Bend-Over Police will act.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Breaking News, Doing the Right Thing Will Protect Doing the Wrong Thing !!

Art Hostage has just learnt, from an underworld source, that the intention to export the stolen Jewellery from Brighton to America has been put on hold.

Apparently the person in current possession of the stolen jewellery has been told of the adverse publicity. "Had their card marked"

This stolen art/Jewellery handler was under the impression that the items had been stolen from a private dwelling house, thereby not attracting publicity and easier to slip out of the country and sell in the United States.

Now the Brighton jewellery is in the public domain it has become what is known in the trade as "Headache Gear" stolen art to be avoided because of the headaches it causes.

The stolen art/jewellery handler is now looking to get their money back for the stolen Brighton jewellery, so it may yet wing its way back to Brighton.

Apparently the thief sold the items for under £1,000, then the price was several thousand to the current handler.

The current handler wants to be rid of the stolen Brighton jewellery but does not want to lose the money paid.

Going out on a limb, Art Hostage has asked an underworld source to pass a message through.

"Please set aside your profit motive for one moment, these three items of jewellery belong to the people of Brighton."

"Whilst not condoning handling stolen art/jewellery, this is a special case whereby the handler should wipe their mouth, look very big, and return the Brighton Three to Ben Parsons, Crime reporter for the Brighton Evening Argus.
(by means of telling Ben Parsons where to collect it, rather than risk breakage by sending the jewellery to him, Moron alert !!) Ben Parsons the peacemaker can be reached on
Brighton tel: 01273-544520

Ben Parsons is lobbying Sussex Police to start conducting random raids in pursuit of the Brighton Three pieces of jewellery, so expect this to start within a week.

Can those who deal in stolen art, antiques and jewellery really afford to take a chance of being raided, all for three bits of Tom Foolery, jewellery ???????????????

Will Sussex Police really start focusing on the Brighton Antiques Mafia ?

If the Brighton Antiques Mafia are not careful they run the risk of shooting themselves in the foot, and by not allowing the Stolen Brighton Three pieces of jewellery to surface it could turn out to be counter-productive and to the detriment of their everyday stolen art/jewellery dealings.

"Doing the right thing will protect doing the wrong thing"

In case you are wondering, Art Hostage does not have the names of those involved with this theft and does not know the identity of the current handler.

Underworld sources are told not to reveal names and specifics, as Art Hostage would be obliged to pass them on to authorities.

Potential targets are the safest way to prevent art crime.

If a target is identified it can be put on lock down.

When the thieves discover this they normally withdraw, only losing their travel expenses, rather than their Liberty.

It is a detente between the underworld and Art Hostage that prevents high profile art raids, the down side is it creates dispersal.

However, to coin the phrase, "Every little helps"

This Modus Vivendi allows Art Hostage to be kept up to date with the inside gossip that surrounds the stolen art world.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Hurley, Burley Art Thefts Without making an Appearence !!

Thieves steal high-value antiques

Thieves forced a window and stole high value jewellery and ornaments in a raid on house in Surrey.
The objects included 18 Royal Doulton figurines worth £4,500, and a neck collar pin with a Swarovski crystal.

Police have now issued a photograph of a stolen ring in the hope that it would be recognised and encourage someone with information to come forward.

Officers said the burglary happened at the large detached house in Epsom between 8 and 10 August.

A spokesman said other distinctive pieces of jewellery that were stolen included a gold ring with a blue precious stone, and a necklace with small pink flowers.

Among the ornaments were a china white bowl of multi-coloured flowers and a set of canteen cutlery in a steel case.

Art Hostage comments:

The desire to steal valuable artworks and Jewellery are such that even if one Player is not active his influence means art theft continues unabated.

Stealing art goes on, and on, and on, and on !!

It is interesting to note that ---- -------- has one of the biggest collections of Royal Doulton figures, (including many rare examples), in Britain. This collector has many stolen Royal Doulton figures in the collection and buys a legitimate version to cover the stolen examples.

If this person was to buy these stolen Doulton figures I would defy anyone to distinguish them from the many thousands of other figures and examples in this collection.

This avid Doulton collector also checks the stolen examples for ultra-violet markings on the base and removes where necessary.

Because of the numerous numbers of each Doulton figures there are it makes it almost impossible to tell which example is a stolen one and which example is legitimate.

Stolen Royal Doulton figures are easy to sell, for nearly full trade value, because they are so numerous.
Princess Badoura, below, is the most coveted and valuable Doulton figure worth tens of thousands of Brit Pounds.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Brighton Antiques Mafia Break Modus Vivendi !!

Exhibits stolen from Royal Pavilion, Brighton, Sussex

Exclusive By Lawrence Marzouk

The Royal Pavilion estate has had four exhibits worth tens of thousands of pounds stolen in two raids this summer, The Argus can reveal.

A historic silver plate, worth up to £10,000, and three gem-encrusted antique items of jewellery have been taken from this prime tourists spot during opening hours.

A security review has been launched after the thefts but the GMB Union, speaking on behalf of security staff, has said that job cuts have left the city's "crown jewels" at risk from theft and staff's safety in jeopardy.

The city council's said its huge collection of art and artifacts, spanning half-a-dozen sites, were safe.

A spokesman said: "Improvements to security in the Royal Pavilion have already been undertaken in light of the first theft.

"We are in the process of undertaking detailed security risk assessments looking at all aspects of security of our buildings, collections, visitors and staff.

"Existing systems including CCTV coverage will be covered.

"The importance of these assessments cannot be underestimated in the light of this latest incident."

GMB Mark Turner said: "We are worried about the safety of our staff and protecting the city's crown jewels."

The 12-inch silver serving dish, dated 1807, was taken from Brighton's royal palace in broad daylight between June 1 and 3. It is not original to the Pavilion.

The affair was kept closely under wraps until The Argus uncovered details of the theft last week.

And on Friday, August 17, two Art Nouveau hair clips and a gold pendant were stolen at 11am from a locked draw in Brighton Museum.

One of the items, which were all created around the 1900s, is a French hair ornament set with diamonds by Louis Gautrait, who worked as principal engraver to Gariod, a leading firm of Parisian goldsmiths.

The stolen piece is one of his most elaborate and is fashioned in gold, with rose diamonds and borded with translucent plique-a-jour enamel.

A gold and plique-a-jour enamel pendant by Gautrait was recently valued at £8,000.

The two other stolen accessories are a Bohemian dragonfly made of silver gilt, opals and quartz and a pendant in gold set with two child baby teeth.

Mr Turner said his union had been raising concerns about staffing and the safety of the city's artifacts for a number of months.

He added he was concerned the review of the service could spell more cuts.

The information and security team guard a series of venues across the city including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum and Preston Manor.

But the department was squeezed 18 months ago down by eight to 28, according to Mr Turner.

He said he had been in talks with members and the GMB were considering balloting for strike because of staffing levels.

He said: "We will be looking at a ballot and will looking at registering a dispute with the council.

"We have told them that we want more staff because staff levels are not right, particularly at locking up times."

The Pavilion and the city museums is home to fine art, antiques, textiles and other artifacts.

An important collection of Dutch 17th century paintings and 19th century British landscapes is among the collection, and many of the items are on loan to the council.

A council spokesman said: "Police investigations into both thefts are ongoing.

"We have briefed and will continue to brief our staff and union representatives on these risk assessments and are committed to involving them in the review process."

Police are appealing for witnesses to both thefts. If you have any information contact PC Vicki Lank on 0845 6070999.

Art Hostage comments:

It seems that the Modus Vivendi set up between Sussex Police and the Brighton Antiques Mafia has been broken.

Sussex Police have always had an unwritten agreement to acquiesce and take a pragmatic approach with regards the dealings of the Brighton Antiques Mafia, including the infamous Brighton Knocker Boys, Above, as long as they only committed art crime outside the Sussex border.

Perhaps now Sussex Police may finally offer assistance to other Police forces investigating art crime in their area and not refuse co-operation when Police from outside Sussex want to pursue Art crooks who reside in Sussex, Brighton and Horsham in particular.
See back story below:

By keeping this out of the news the Police have allowed these items to change hands several times, thus preventing any prospect of a prosecution or at the very least recovery.

The Sussex Police, Cream of British Society, "White, Thick, and Rise to the Top" dilatory and not fit for purpose.
On the other hand this cunning piece of detective work may flush out the stolen items, yeah right !!

In days of Old the Sussex Police Arts and Antiques Squad, Jack Snipe, John Lipsham and co would call on certain Brighton Antiques Dealers, who were known to deal in stolen art and antiques, and say:

"We want these items back, if they are not recovered within a week we (Sussex Police art Squad) will conduct random raids disrupting your regular stolen art dealings"

Within a week the said items would surface.Sadly there is no Art and Antiques Squad anymore and Art theft is going on unabated, with art crooks acting with impunity.

Just for the record, the silver dish was sold in London and the jewellery was sold in Portabello road, now in the hands of a specialist dealer who will sell them in America at one of upcoming fairs.

Thing about Brighton is, "There are no secrets if you know the right people, Olive, Bubbles etc, above"

Stolen Art Watch, No Rewards for Bad Guys, Ex-Police, Who are Two Sides of the Same Coin !!

Art gallery refuses to offer reward for stolen painting

THE Art Gallery of NSW has ignored police advice to offer a reward which could secure the return of a $1.4 million painting stolen in an embarrassing theft.

An art theft expert said a reward could have "thrown a line of communication to the thieves" but the gallery refused to follow advice from The Rocks police and put up the money.

The 17th century painting by Dutch master Frans van Mieris was unscrewed from a wall while 6000 art lovers passed through the gallery on June 9.

Rewards have been used around the world for decades to entice thieves to return artwork, with some caught as they negotiated a ransom, criminologist Ken Polk said yesterday.

In one of the most high-profile cases, arrests were made within two days of a reward being offered for the return of the Edvard Munch masterpiece The Scream in Norway two years ago.

It is understood police first approached the gallery about a month ago after finding few leads in their hunt to find van Mieris' A Cavalier.

Any reward could have been as high as $150,000, with 10 per cent of the value of the work considered appropriate, experts said yesterday.

Interpol, the FBI and Scotland Yard have been alerted to the theft but in the only Australian development, a man aged in his mid-40s was caught by police placing a fake picture of the painting on eBay.

"I'm surprised they're not engaging in negotiations," Professor Polk from Melbourne University said yesterday.

"In the past there have been a number of cases where ransoms have been negotiated either to catch the thief or have the artwork returned. The (gallery) may know something in this circumstance and have decided a reward is not appropriate."

A spokeswoman for the gallery refused to confirm how much the police advised should be offered as a reward.

"After consultation with other organisations, the gallery is not going ahead with a reward at this stage," the spokeswoman said.

The gallery's refusal to follow police advice has come after it emerged that the gallery waited a day after detecting the theft before notifying police.

It was another two days before the public and gallery visitors were alerted to the theft and asked to come forward if they saw anything suspicious.

The Daily Telegraph reported earlier this month that a delicate wood carving of a magnolia by Tokyo-based artist Yoshihiro Suda was plucked from a display wall at the doorway of the gallery's Asian exhibit in 2004.

The sculpture - worth $35,000 - has never been found.

Art Hostage comments:

I admire the honesty and courage of the New South Wales Gallery for taking this hard line and not offering a reward.

As previously stated, rewards are never paid to informants, but only to ex-police officers like Tricky Dick Ellis, of  

who also extort money for investigating art thefts, not that much art is ever recovered down to their efforts, it is just a Gravy Train for ex-police officers to exploit.

I firmly believe that rewards should be forbidden, thus preventing ex-police officers extorting money from art loss victims as well as sending a clear message to potential art thieves:

"Rewards will never, ever, be paid, so when it comes to stealing art, "forget about it", as they say in New York.

O'h I could tell a tale of how Two ex-police officers are extorting monies off a world famous Museum under the guise of investigating their art loss.

These two Ex-police officers pray on art loss victims trauma and exploit this by offering false promises of recovery.

An art insurance industry insider commented:

"The ---- Museum would learn more by reading Stolen Vermeer and Art Hostage blogs for free, rather than paying these two conmen for junkets and false dawns"

This guy should know, as he had to pay these two ex-police officers £1/2 million/£500,000 for being baggage handlers on a famous recovery.

To add insult to injury, the Museum in question can learn more about their stolen artworks by reading Stolen Vermeer and Art Hostage blogs free of charge, rather than paying $57,000 dollars last year and God only knows how much this year for information that is pure nonsense.
By refusing to pay rewards the attraction to steal high value art is weaker and hopefully art crooks will turn away from stealing art.
A paradox is that those who will be most affected by refusing to pay rewards are not the art crooks, but the ex-police officers who supposedly investigate art loss.
It does make one wonder who are the real crooks, the thieves, or the money grabbing Ex-Art Squad police officers ?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Honesty Leads to Suspicion, Arrest and Accusations !!

Rare Comic Drawings Found in Garage Sale

North Texas Family Surprised To Find Artwork Was Stolen

When a McKinney, Tex. couple picked up a coloring book for their daughter at a garage sale, they were surprised to see what looked like sketches drawings for a comic book tucked inside. But that was just the start of the surprises.

Paul and Jamillah Washington took the black-and-white sketches to a local art auction house to get a better idea of what they were

They turned out to be over sized art boards for the original "Avengers" comic book from 1964, worth some $48,000.

But that's not all -- the sketches were also reported stolen from DFW airport earlier this year. That's when the Washingtons were surprised again by police.

"They read us our rights, they grabbed me and put me in another room," remembered Paul Washington. "I'm just like in shock! What's going on, asking a lot of questions."

The Washington's are released while an investigation is conducted. They hope to get the artwork back, but a judge will likely determine way the artwork ends up.

Art Hostage comments:

Funny how valuable stolen artworks keep being discovered at Garage sales and Car Trunk sales.

I wonder what the odds are of high value stolen artworks being discarded by the thieves only to re-appear at Garage and Car trunk sales?

Very high indeed, as most of these supposed chance discoveries are part of an elaborate scheme to either claim a reward or try and obtain legal title to stolen art.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Micro Reward for Micro Recovery ??

Micro-sculptures reunited with sculptor

BIRMINGHAM, England, Aug. 17 Three micro-sculptures worth about $1 million were reunited with their creator six years after they were stolen during a London exhibition.

The three were an unexpected part of a $40 purchase during a car trunk sale last month by Anthony Barry. When he and his fiance found a black box containing three needles and told they were actually tiny sculptures, "my fiance, Jolene, immediately thought of (sculptor) Willard Wigan because she had seen him on TV," Barry told the London Daily Mail.

The tiny works of art, less than 1 millimeter tall and mounted in the eyes of needles, were stolen at a London exhibition. The three pieces were Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Tower Bridge and Jesus.

"Being a craftsman myself I can appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that can go into a piece of work," Barry, a cabinetmaker, told the newspaper.

The pair met in Birmingham last week where the micro-sculptures were returned to their owner.

"Anthony knew how much the pieces were worth but that didn't matter," Wigan said in the Daily Mail article. "He said they belonged to someone else and it wouldn't be right for him to keep them.

Stolen micro sculptures worth £500,000 bought at car boot sale for £20

Three micro sculptures worth half a million pounds which were stolen six years ago have turned up at a car boot sale for £20.

Artist Willard Wigan thought he had lost his prized work forever after they were stolen at a London exhibition in 2001.

The tiny works of art are less than a millimetre in size and are mounted in the eyes of needles making them barely visible to the naked eye.

So there actually was a better chance of finding a needle in a haystack.

The three pieces; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Tower Bridge and Jesus, had all been stolen from a Covent Garden exhibition in 2001 when he left them unattended for a short while.

But when Anthony Barry spotted the minute pieces for sale at a boot fair last month, he snapped them up for £20.

What Anthony or the boot fair seller obviously didn't know was that the full-stop size models were worth £165,000 - each.

Cabinet Maker, Anthony, 27, from Marlborough, Wiltshire, said he stumbled across a black box with three needles inside.

He said: "When we were told there were tiny sculptures inside the eyes of the needles my fiancee, Jolene, immediately thought of Willard Wigan because she had seen him on TV.

"When I got them home, I found a big magnifying glass and saw Snow White with her arms missing and only three dwarves by her side.

"I then read on the Internet about Willard Wigan having some work stolen back in 2001.

"I couldn't believe it when I realised they were worth over £100,000 each.

"To be honest I was a bit gutted because I knew I had to give them back to Willard.

"Being a craftsman myself I can appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that can go into a piece of work."

The pair met in Birmingham city centre last week where the micro scultptures were returned to their grateful owner.

When Willard got the phone call telling him his work had turned up at a boot fair he thought it was a wind-up.

Willard, 50, from Birmingham, said: "I was in complete shock, I thought to myself; 'Is this real, or is someone pulling my leg?'

"Anthony knew how much the pieces were worth but that didn't matter.

"He said they belonged to someone else and it wouldn't be right for him to keep them.

"He is a truly genuine and honest man which is quite rare these days.

"I didn't think about going to the police - I was just overjoyed to have them back."

Willard said it was like losing part of his family when the pieces were stolen.

The police investigated the incident and put out a TV appeal but there was no news on the valuable miniatures until Anthony contacted Willard last week.

Anthony, who lives with fiancee, Jolene, 22, and 19-month-old son, Aiden, added: "Willard was so happy and overjoyed when I called him.

"How on earth the needles managed to get from a London exhibition to a boot fair in Swindon is mind boggling.

"The lady on the stall just said she had picked up the box from someone else and they had no idea what they were or where they came from."

Despite being out of pocket from the purchase, Anthony is pleased that the work has finally made it back to the creator.

"I really admire Willard's work - the patience and skill required to create something so small is amazing.

"As a reward for me returning the pieces he has invited me to one of his exhibitions and has promised me 'red-carpet' treatment."

Willard, who was presented with an MBE for services to art last month, sold his collection to former England Davis Cup captain turned entrepreneur, David Lloyd, in May.
Art Hostage Comments:
I wonder if the reward will be micro, there is no taste in nothing, or very little ??
Surely the £20 paid by this man for the micro art !!
Would it hurt to wet the beak of the finder if it is proved he acted honestly ?
Or will this show that victims can be mean spirited when they receive their stolen artworks back in an act of good faith?
I am sure that if a decent reward was paid in this case it would further enhance the artists reputation, thereby the decent reward would be cheap if compared to the favourable publicity, at half the price.
The down side is if people see this man not get rewarded for his honourable act they may think twice before returning or helping art recovery in the future.
Just a thought !

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Tragic, Twilight Zone, Tale !!

Alcoholic stole art from hospital

A SUICIDAL alcoholic stole a painting as he stormed out of Great Western Hospital - after staff saved his life.

He then tried to sell the artwork off to a couple at a bus stop for £5.

Michael Buchanan, 47, of Green Road, Upper Stratton, had been rushed to hospital after taking an overdose.

Medical staff battled to save his life.

But when Buchanan realised the attempt to kill himself had been thwarted, he ripped the drip out of his arm, got out of his bed and left the hospital in a rage - with a stolen painting under his arm.

Buchanan admitted stealing the £700 painting from the hospital at Swindon Magistrates' Court.

He also admitted stealing clothes from Dorothy Perkins the day after being released from prison early for good behaviour.

And he admitted breaching a supervision order, which was placed on him so he could leave jail early.

Nicola Jennings, prosecuting, told the court Buchanan took the painting in a rage as he left the hospital because he did not want to be saved.

"He had been taken into hospital after taking an overdose.

"He was really annoyed with the hospital for saving him.

"He said he was angry at them for not letting him curl up and die."

The court heard that Buchanan then tried to sell the £700 picture to a couple he met at a bus stop for £5.

Rob Ross, defending Buchanan, said his client was an alcoholic and had a long history of appearing before the courts but said he was cleaning himself up and seemed healthier than he had in 10 years.

"He says this is the first time in as long as he can remember that he can go without the need for a drink," said Mr Ross.

"He knows he can expect nothing other than a custodial sentence and hopefully this will give him the chance to stay dry for good."

District judge Simon Cooper said: "These matters are so serious a custodial sentence must be passed because of the length, persistency and frequency of your offending."

Buchanan will have to serve the remainder of his previous jail term, until September 25.

He was then given 16 weeks behind bars for each of the thefts and eight weeks in custody for failing to surrender, which will run concurrently.

Art Hostage comments:

Please forgive me, for I don't know whether to Laugh or cry, surreal or sad !

Stolen Art Watch, Too Good To Be True !!

Woman finds 800-year-old art treasure in rubbish bin

Vienna - An old cross recovered by an Austrian woman from a garbage container turned out to be an 800-year-old French masterpiece stolen from a Polish collection by the Nazi regime, Austrian police said on Thursday. In 2004, the woman from Zell am See in the province Salzburg got permission from her neighbours to look through a garbage container of things they had thrown out.

Among other things, she took an old, gold-coloured cross.

As nobody else liked it, the woman kept the gold-plate and enamel cross under her couch until showing it to art experts earlier this year.

According to experts from Vienna's Fine Arts Museum, the piece of garbage turned out to be a passion cross from a manufacturer in Limoges in France made around 1200.

Similar pieces fetched up to 400,000 euros (537,000 dollars) at international auctions.
Police traced the origin of the cross, showing the piece had been stolen by the Nazi regime from the Polish art collection of Izabella Elzbieta of Czartoryski Dzialinska in 1941.

Pieces from the collection were moved from Warsaw to Austria, where the trail ended in 1945.
The cross's fate still remains unclear. The London-based Commission for Looted Art, informed by the Polish authorities, is representing the heirs.

The local court in Zell am See decided that for the time being the garbage-treasure was to be kept at the local heritage museum at Leogang, where it could be properly stored.

Art Hostage comments:

A little investigation into the background of this woman and her ancestry will show, no doubt, a link to the original theft of this looted artwork.

I bet there is a connection to a relative who was a Nazi and involved with this criminal act and this is just another fabricated story to try and realise market value for stolen art.

It is a bit like saying 9/11 was an Inside Job, when clearly World Trade Centre building Seven was just tired and wanted to have a lay down.

There have been many unproven theories about 9/11, not least the official 9/11 commission report.

My opinion, for what it is worth, is that during the Cold War explosives were placed in many significant buildings across America so that in event of a Soviet invasion these buildings could be brought down by controlled demolition to prevent the invading Soviets from gaining access to them.

Unfortunately these explosives were not removed from the Trade Towers or Building Seven and on 9/11 when the planes hit the twin towers they set off the Soviet era explosives causing the Towers and Building Seven to collapse in a controlled demolition manner.

This theory is somewhere between the Official version and the 9/11 Inside Job theory, a sort of Detente, neither side is right or wrong.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Rare Success in Thwarting Antiquities Smuggling !!

Iran seizes US-bound antiques

Tue, 14 Aug 2007 00:36:35

Iranian security forces and police have confiscated a haul of antiques, which was planned to be smuggled into the United States.

The haul, which is believed to be the biggest ever discovered, included over 300 antiques of high historical and cultural value.

The collection of Iranian relics, European artworks and historical oriental items, hidden among household appliances, was discovered by Tehran's Customs.

A priceless handwritten Quran with illuminations and a painted book cover dating back to the era of Qajar king Nasereddin Shah (1848-1896), and European crystal dishes belonging to the mid-19th century have been found among the objects.

Historical glazed clay bowls as well as bronze statues dating back to the second millennium BC and tens of other historical objects were also planned to be smuggled into the US.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Round Up of Everyday Art Theft !!

Witness appeal follows Knaresborough art theft

[Monday 13 August 2007]

AN appeal for witnesses has gone out following the theft of a painting depicting a famous view of one North Yorkshire town.

Harrogate Borough Council has confirmed that a 19th century painting was stolen from Knaresborough House. The artist is unknown but this painting in oils shows the famous view from Knaresborough Castle across the river. Its value therefore is intrinsic to the people of Knaresborough.

The painting transferred to Harrogate Borough Council from the former Knaresborough Urban District Council on local government re-organisation in 1974. Knaresborough House has remained its permanent home and it is believed to have hung on the staircase there for the past 60 years.

Staff are helping police with their enquiries and were able to provide them with a very recent photograph that had been taken for a feature in a forthcoming national art publication.

The painting is believed to have been stolen between 3.00pm and 4.00pm on Monday, 6 August. It measures 85cm by123cm. Caretakers believe that the thief used the side door which is the disabled access to the building.

Police and the council are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.
If anyone is offered this painting, they should look for the council's identification number of HARAG 1080.

11.10am Monday 13th August 2007 -


THOUSANDS of pounds worth of antiques have been stolen from Windsor House Antiques Centre in Moreton-in-Marsh.

The centre was burgled between 2.40am and 3.10am on Sunday morning.

Thieves entered through a first floor window, smashed a glass display cabinet and removed its contents before leaving the same way they came in.

The contents, mostly jewellery, was discovered missing at 11am on Sunday. At present an exact figure of how much was taken and what it was worth is unknown, but it was believed to be thousands of pounds.

Police are waiting for the owners to go through the stock to identify what is missing.

Antiques taken in Burglary

VALUABLE antiques, jewellery and a replica revolver were stolen in raids in the South Lakes.

Two properties were targeted yesterday in separate incidents which police are not linking.

Police say the two antique tables worth up to £1,000 each taken in a burglary in Troutbeck were in “mint condition” and were of high value — two tables worth up to £1,000 each.

Burglars broke into the study of the property and stole a mahogany Suther land gate-leg table with satinwood inlay to the table top. The table is 3ft long with two leaves, 18in wide each.

The second table is a Regency mahogany side table, 2ft 10in tall.

A spokesman for Cumbria police said: “We can’t say if the property was specifically targeted. The tables were big enough to pick up and walk out with.

“They’re hall tables and they could have been taken without a vehicle.”

The owners are in the process of speaking to antiques dealers to establish exactly how much each table was worth. The house was targeted between 7.30am and 11am yesterday.

The second burglary took place at a detached house in the area of Tower Wood, Bowness. Burglars smashed a window to break into the property between 1.45pm and 2.16pm.

A number of items were taken in the haul including various items of jewellery and a replica Desert Eagle revolver, similar to a Colt 45 pistol.

DC Maurice Wright, of Kendal CID, is investigating the Bowness burglary.

He said: “We’re still trying to assess exactly what’s been taken but it’s likely to run into the hundreds of pounds rather than thousands.”

Cumbria police are appealing to antiques dealers in the county who may be offered some of the items to come for ward with information.

Any witnesses to either burglary or anybody with more information is asked to contact Cumbria police on 0845 330 0247.

Art Hostage comments:

For every big art theft reported by the media, there are at least another 10 that go unreported.

Most are valued at £10,000 or less but are no less traumatic for the victims.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Who Said Stolen Art Was Worthless ??

August 8, 2007

Travellers who lived in luxury have millions of pounds seized

Helen Nugent

A group of travellers who had no jobs or any other legitimate source of income but who shopped at Harrods, wore fur coats and drove luxury cars have had nearly £3 million confiscated.

Although police expected to uncover cash and property when they made a series of raids at a Leicestershire site, nothing could have prepared them for what they found at homes belonging to the Biddle and Stretton families.

A fleet of top-of-the-range cars, including Mercedes, BMWs and a Porsche were the most visible assets. But they also seized almost £1 million in cash, much of it buried in tins in the gardens or stuffed inside cuddly toys. One member of the group had hidden nearly £5,000 in her dishwasher.

Also unearthed was £500,000 of jewellery, £200,000 of Royal Worcester crockery and 1,500 high-quality items, from antiques to designer clothes. Receipts from Harrods and Selfridges were strewn around the homes. Nearly all had been bought with the profits of vehicle crime.

Now, eight months after the final defendants were sentenced, the courts have ordered the largest confiscation order of its kind in this country. On Monday a judge at Nottingham Crown Court ruled that £1,923,285 should be confiscated from five members of the Stretton family. Hours later, at a separate hearing, a judge at Derby Crown Court said that £666,000 should be taken from the Biddles. A smaller amount had earlier been confiscated from three other people.

The culmination of the case comes four years after officers began Operation Lucky, more than two years since the raids and follows a marathon court process in which 16 people were convicted of various offences, from tax evasion and benefit fraud to car “clocking” and selling stolen vehicles.

The ringleaders were Elvis Biddle, 29, and Heath Stretton, 37, who were both jailed last year for 3½ years. They masterminded the group’s activities from the Justin Park travellers’ site near Market Harborough.

Leicester Crown Court was told last November how the families had made their money from “clocking” high-mileage cars and selling stolen caravans. Put simply, they bought vehicles at auction for a pittance, reduced the mileages and sold them on, supported by forged documents and altered MoT certificates.

During the hearing, the court was told how police found no trace of any legitimate income during Elvis Biddle’s entire life. Yet inquiries found that he and his girlfriend had spent more than £140,000 in the final months of the families’ criminal empire. A search of his parents’ home recovered £370,000 of luxury goods.

Florence Biddle, his mother, had claimed family allowance and used it to buy one of her sons a Rolex watch.

At Heath Stretton’s home, his wife’s eight fur coats worth £63,500 were seized with a £20,000 personal numberplate, a £28,990 diamond bracelet and five Chanel handbags worth £8,115.

Mrs Biddle, 55, and her husband, John, 49, were each given two-year sentences last November. Boysie Biddle, 20, was sent to a young offender institution for 12 months. Members of the Stretton family were given custodial sentences. The Stretton parents, Catherine and Joseph, were each given 12-month conditional discharges.

Detective Superintendent Chris Tew, of Leicestershire police, said: “For years these individuals were living a lifestyle most people could only ever dream of, yet none of them had a legitimate job.”

Police confiscate £3m crime haul

Proceeds of crime totalling almost £3m have been confiscated as part of a Leicestershire Police operation.

Officers found £1m in cash and 37 vehicles and jewellery worth £500,000 at homes around a travellers' site near Market Harborough on 1 April 2005.

The haul resulted in 16 people being sentenced for a variety of offences, with the final three sentenced at Leicester Crown Court in December 2006.

On Monday the goods were confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Buried cash

Operation Lucky was the largest investigation of its kind ever undertaken by Leicestershire Police.

Officers discovered some cash buried underground and some stuffed inside toys.
Police also found Royal Worcester crockery worth £200,000 and 1,500 luxury items such as antiques and designer clothes during the raid at and around Justin Park travellers' site.

The offences included possession of stolen property, tax evasion and benefit fraud, as well as car-clocking and selling stolen vehicles.

A hearing was held on Monday to confirm what would be done with the goods.
The money will now be handed over to the Treasury - some will be returned to the police force and Crown Prosecution Service.
'Compensate victims'

Det Supt Chris Tew, said: "Operation Lucky uncovered organised criminality on a large scale and the profits were clearly huge.
"For years the individuals involved were living a lifestyle most people could only ever dream of yet none of them had a legitimate job.

"We are delighted that some of the money confiscated will go directly to compensate the victims in this case and I know how much it will mean to some of them to receive a cheque to reimburse them for the thousands they lost."
Bobby Biddle, 22, said to be "low down the chain" in the scams, was sentenced to eight months in prison, after admitting car-clocking and the conversion of criminal property on 7 December 2006.

Priscilla Devlin, 24, was given a two-year conditional discharge after pleading guilty to possession of criminal property.

Sherry Stretton, 33, was given a 200-hour community punishment order after she admitted possession of criminal property, including £100,000 worth of jewellery.

Art Hostage comments:

The irony of this is another rival Traveller family, working for the London Met Police, is claiming a reward for this seizure, via a Masonic Lodge to which both the Informing Traveller and various senior Police officers are members.

It will be interesting to see if they get paid, or will they have to resort to legal action ?

This family is also involved in high value art theft and seems to be in control of the organised art raids that have occurred recently.

£2.2m bill for police informants

The Metropolitan Police spent more than £2.2m on police informants in the year 2006-2007, it has been revealed.
The Met paid out £2,220,574 in rewards for information about criminals operating in London and in other areas.

Another £134,961 was spent on "informant related expenditure", thought to include accommodation, travel and food for police handlers.

Senior officers have said that such knowledge is crucial in fighting organised crime and terror threats.
London's police spent £2,225,893 on informants in 2005-6 and £143,606 more on related costs.

But the Met, like other police forces across England and Wales, has refused to give details of the total amount it spends on informants, even after a Freedom of Information Act request.

Assistant Commissioner Steve House said informants were a vital source of intelligence, but said the idea of people being paid small amounts for rumours overheard in pubs was not accurate.

Mr House said in a public meeting last month that certain details could not be divulged in order to protect informants.
Secrecy criticised

He said: "Most of our informants are doing this purely for money and they are involved in the criminal lifestyle and their lives are often at risk.

"The lack of transparency is to a certain extent deliberate. Informants, or as they are now called, Covert Human Intelligence Sources, are covert assets.

"It is not good sense to tell too much about any covert assets. We do not give too much detail."
Critics say some of the procedures could be abused because cash changes hands under a cloak of secrecy.

Metropolitan Police Authority member Jenny Jones said she will discuss the amount paid with Sir Ian Blair at the next meeting of the oversight group.
Criticising the secrecy, she said: "This is a classic example of information the police could easily have given us."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said: "There is no earthly reason why the Met should want to keep this information secret and it is a great pity that it has taken so much effort to get the truth out of them."

Informant system 'open to abuse'
By Chris Summers

The Liberal Democrats and several campaign groups have expressed concerns about the amount of public money being spent without accountability on police informers.

Several people who work or have worked with the police have contacted the BBC News website to voice their concerns about the issue.

One man, who works with the police and has intimate knowledge of the system, said it was "open to abuse".
Jim, whose name we have changed, told the BBC News website expenses were frequently fiddled.

"I know of officers who have run non-existent sources and claimed the money themselves. Some use it for Friday afternoon drinking sessions.

"Within my unit there are sources who are paid on a week-to-week basis and get bigger payments when they get a major result, for example when they lead officers to hidden firearms.
'Turning a blind eye'

"A lot of units turn a blind eye to these sources committing crimes. In fact they sometimes say to them, 'Just make sure you don't get caught'.

"The Association of Chief Police Officers produced a document about the handling of sources, but it has never been published. The system badly needs regulating."

Steven - again it is not his real name - a former detective who used to handle covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) but now lives abroad, said it was inherently difficult to deal with people who were often liars and criminals.

He told the BBC News website: "It is a murky and complex and unsavoury world. Most of these people lie for a living - the trick is to find the lie... and the truth."

One horrific example of such duplicity was outlined in Liverpool Crown Court in 1999.
Kevin Morrison was eventually jailed for life for the robbing, mutilating and murdering 74-year-old Alice Rye.

Morrison, a registered police informant, had earlier tried to "whet the appetite" of Merseyside detectives by divulging previously unpublicised details about her death.

Morrison, who was seeking the £5,000 reward which was on offer, tried to incriminate an acquaintance, Keith Darlington.

Steven told the BBC News website: "While historically some sources may have been on a retainer, in my experience this kind of thing was very rare indeed.

"They are usually paid on results - the better the information, the better the result. Poor, weak and misleading information, leads to a confused or poor result, and a lower payment.

"Having sources on the inside of a job is also a very risky business, for the police at court but also for the source themselves.

Risk assessment

"Having a CHIS exposed in court means a massive expense for the police in terms of constant witness protection, relocation, new identities and so on.

"There are very high levels of control for this sort of thing - at detective chief superintendent level - given the risk assessment requirements for both the handler and the CHIS.

"The days of back-handers to worthless sources paid out by grubby detectives are long gone thankfully."

But Dick Kirby, a retired Flying Squad officer who ran informants throughout his career, said politicians were wrong to try to delve too deeply into how much money was being spent on informants.

'Productive' system

He said: "The use of informants - and I include supergrasses - is one of the most productive ways of infiltrating, breaking up and prosecuting to conviction gangs of criminals. During my career, not one of my informants was ever compromised, nor even suspected.

"Matters are somewhat different, now.

There is far too much paperwork generated regarding the true identity of informants, thus raising the risk of identifying them.

And now, this latest move by politicians to get the various police forces to reveal how much is spent rewarding informants - I can tell them, not enough!"

Mr Kirby, who has written several books on the subject, said:
"Grassing has always been a high-risk business. Why anybody would wish to do it nowadays is beyond me, yet they do."

"I cannot see any sense in revealing how much is spent on informants. It is simply a case of politicians wanting to know, for the sake of knowing. It would also be another nail in the coffin for informants, to lead to their identification."

Art Hostage comments:

£1million went to Brighton, Sussex, £500,000 went to Horsham, Sussex, £500,000 was all that was paid to informants who reside in London.

It is interesting to note that both the Informants from Brighton and Horsham are Masons and it is through their respective Masonic Lodges they have claimed their rewards, using Senior Police Officers to vouch for them and lobby for the maximum payment.

Then again, that is what Masons do, help each other, they make no secret of that.

Current figures are more revealing because they include rewards claimed for the £53 million Kent cash robbery, provided there are convictions.

How much was paid from insurers would give a clearer indication of the amount coming from Public funds.

It is also worth remembering that very large payments are made via the London Met Police to provide an extra "Firewall" for the registered informant, as was the case with the Travellers from Leicestershire.

So this figure of £2.2 million is a bit misleading, and also touted, via the media, to try and hood-wink people into becoming registered informants, sorry, Human Sources.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Picasso's Recovered in Daring Swoop !!

Three Picasso's stolen from the Paris home of Picasso's Grand-daughter have been recovered in a daring swoop
see for details.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Art Theft with Guns moves Closer to Britain !!

Gunmen seize priceless masters

Hooded and armed men staged a brazen afternoon heist at a museum in the French Riviera city of Nice today, making off with four priceless paintings: two Bruegels, a Sisley and a Monet.

Between four and five men entered the Beaux-Arts Jules Cheret museum in the heart of Nice this afternoon, when entry was free for the public.

Police said there were only about six visitors in the late 19th century building at the time. The robbers threatened staff members and then took the four paintings, put them in bags, and then escaped.

Two of the works by Impressionist painters Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley stolen today had also been taken during a 1998 robbery but were recovered a week later on a boat in a nearby town, Monique Bailet, assistant curator of the museum said.

The museum's curator at the time was convicted for that heist and sentenced to five years in jail.

The stolen oil paintings include Falaises pres de Dieppe (Cliffs near Dieppe) painted by Monet in 1897, and Sisley's Allee de peupliers de Moret (The lane of poplars at Moret), dating back to 1980.

The two stolen works of Jan Breugel, a Flemish Baroque era painter who lived between 1568 and 1625, were Allegorie de l'eau (Allegory of Water) and Allegorie de la terre (Allegory of Earth).

"One of the staff members on the first floor told me that the men told him to lie on the floor as they put the paintings in bags. They wanted to take a fifth but could not do so," Bailet said.

Police said they had launched an investigation into the theft, which they described as a "special order", as the paintings cannot be sold on the market because they are well known.

The Sisley painting had been stolen in 1978 while on loan for an exhibition in Marseilles but was recovered a few days later in the same town.

The Nice museum is housed in the former private mansion of a Ukrainian princess, Elisabeth Vassilievna Kotschoubey, and was built in 1878.

City authorities acquired the mansion in 1925 and inaugurated the museum three years later. It was named after French artist Jules Cheret, who lived and worked in Nice during his final years.

The museum houses a collection of art spanning the past four centuries including paintings by Cheret and other artists who lived and worked on the French Riviera such as Gustav Adolf Mossa.

It also has sculptures by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Francois Rude and Auguste Rodin, as well as ceramic pieces by Pablo Picasso.

Art Hostage Comments:

Now this could be the "Balkan Bandits" or criminals from North Africa, however, the most sinister thing is the use of of guns.

The use of guns is getting ever more frequent.

The BBC are reporting that Police value the stolen quartet at 1 million Euros £670 thousand and change.

Classic Police tactic to undervalue the stolen art so the thieves may receive less, then the stolen art handlers may demand less.

In this case however, it seems rather obvious and even those without any art market knowledge would value these artworks at much more, several million Euros minimum.

This kind of armed robbery is a taste of things to come, next stop mainland Britain !!

Something very big is in the works, will happen soon, watch this space !!

A little inside information, the Robbers spoke good English, leaving Police wondering if these were English Art Thieves on vacation ???????????

Maybe the paintings are being stored at a villa or farmhouse not far from the crime scene?

They will then be transported over the Channel to England by camper-van via Tunnel or ferry, mingling in with the August Bank holiday traffic returning to England.

From England they may even end up in Ireland at the museum of the missing?

Funny thing is, stolen high value art seems to pass through England even if it is to end up Eastwards into Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine.

London is a clearing house where underworld deals are done with stolen art, why, quite frankly because it is easy.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, William De Morgan Centre Raided, Unique Ceramics Stolen !

Victorian art stolen in museum burglary

By Dan Menhinnitt

Unique Victorian art work has been stolen from a Wandsworth museum.

The De Morgan Centre, a museum inside West Hill Library, West Hill, was burgled at 1.30am on Sunday.

Police believe the culprit or culprits broke into the centre, which holds an extensive collection of 19th century art and crafts ceramics, through a bathroom window.

Once inside a glass cabinet containing expensive plates and jugs was smashed and the contents stolen.

The pieces, by William De Morgan, included a red and gold lustre dish of a snake wrapped around the body of a winged dragon.

Also stolen were a red and gold lustre dish decorated with three peacocks, and a two handled lustre urn illustrated with snakes and cherubs playing musical instruments.

Damaged ceramics were found at the scene.

Detective Sergeant Neil Philpott, the investigating officer, said: "A man was seen loitering outside the building and we are appealing for any information that can help us trace him or the people responsible for this. The ceramics belong in a museum for the public to see, so we need your help to return them to their rightful place."

Art Hostage Comments:

Remember the breaking news Monday?

This was the raid I was referring to, bloody shame, the public is going to be denied the ability to view these Unique items.

The thieves will only get a small amount for these unique items, see below, it will be the Stolen Art Handlers who will want unrealistic amounts to return them to the De Morgan Centre.

A guideline to Judges to give out minimum Ten Years for theft from a Public Building or Museum may kerb this kind of activity.

Under the 1968 Theft Act Judges can sentence defendants up to Fourteen years jail time so there is no need to put forward new legislation.

It has worked well as a deterrent in the United States under The Theft of Major Artwork provision in the 1994 crime bill legislated by Senator Edward Kennedy in response to the Gardner Art Heist of 1990.

However, this legislation has contributed to preventing the Gardner Art being returned, as anyone trying to do so would face Federal charges and 25-Life if caught in possession of the Gardner Art.

In an act of self-less public duty, the Gardner Museum supported the 1994 crime bill legislation, making it a Federal crime to steal artworks from public buildings and Museums, even though it would make recovering their stolen art harder.

Politicians like to herald new government polices that do not cost anything, well how about announcing publicly that anyone stealing from Public Buildings or Museums in the United Kingdom will face a minimum Ten Years jail time, it may cause dispersal of art theft to the private sector, but will provide a Comfort Blanket to hard pressed Museums who do not have the funds to tighten security.

Off to Lobby Jackie Smith !!

Also see

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Big Mouthed Brighton Antiques Mafia, The Next Generation !!

Burglar, nine, steals jewels

Louise Acford

A nine-year-old "Oliver Twist" caught stealing jewellery from pensioners is believed to be Sussex's youngest burglar.

The boy, from Shoreham, had to be released by police without charge because he is under ten, the age of criminal responsibility.

He was working with a 15-yearold accomplice and they stole from properties in Shoreham after tricking the owners into letting them in.

The pair stole jewellery worth about £600, some of it antique, from two houses.

They knocked on the front doors and asked if they could use the toilet. Once they were let in, they went upstairs and rifled through bedrooms looking for cash and jewellery.

Homes in the St Julian's Road and Middle Road area were targeted by the youngsters last Thursday afternoon.

Officers made door-to-door inquiries which revealed the two youngsters had asked to use the toilet at four other properties but had been refused.

Neighbours reported seeing the children knocking on doors of other homes where the owners were out, climbing over garden fences and looking through windows.

Police were alerted to the youngsters' suspicious behaviour after one of the victims called them to report the two boys.

At that stage, the person didn't release they had been burgled.

When the police arrived, the boys ran away but were caught a short time later.

All the jewellery has been retrieved and handed back to the owners.

Earlier this week, The Argus reported hundreds of youngsters across the county had escaped prosecution for crimes including burglary, sexual assault, arson and hate crimes in the past three years.

By 2006-07 the number of children committing crime who were under the age of criminal responsibility had fallen to 118.

Chief Inspector Lawrence Hobbs, of the Adur division of Sussex Police, said: "It's highly unusual for us to encounter someone so young committing crimes.

Children under ten can break the law in the full knowledge they will never appear before a court.

He will now be referred to the youth offending team to try to prevent him from committing more crime."

The burglaries echo the story of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens in which a young boy becomes a trainee thief under the watchful eye of an older accomplice, the Artful Dodger.

Detective Constable Steve Webb said Shoreham officers had never encountered the nine-yearold but the 15-year-old, also from Shoreham, was known to them.

DC Webb said: "When they were caught, the 15-year-old was trying to blame the younger lad.

He did look very young but we arrested him thinking he might be ten."

When it was found he was nine, the boy was released. DC Webb said: "The lad certainly knew right from wrong but still went out and committed burglary."

The 15-year-old was released on bail pending further inquiries.

Art Hostage comments:

These are part of the Brighton Art and Antique Knocker Boys Youth Section.

Normally, the "Nibbler Knockers" as they are called, scout locations for houses full of art and antiques, then they pass this information on to Adult Brighton Antiques Knocker Boys, who in turn try and purchase items using all the tactics at their disposal.

Whatever art and antiques cannot be purchased are then targeted by the Brighton Antiques Mafia A-Team Burglars.

Post theft, items are sold within the antiques trade by Elder Brighton Antiques Mafia figures, who started off their own criminal life as "Nibbler Knockers"

This is just one of the many reasons why Brighton, Sussex has always been the epicentre of the global stolen art trade.

The history of the Brighton Antiques trade is a subject I will review in the future.

The Blind Hedgehog and the Blind Wide-Mouthed Frog

A Blind Hedgehog met up with a Blind Wide-mouthed Frog and enquired, "what are you?"

"I don't know as I am blind, what are you?"

"I am blind also, so if we describe each other we may be able to guess what we are?"

The Wide-mouthed Frog felt the Hedgehog and said, "you are spiky, have a long nose and short legs, pause.... I know, you are a Hedgehog !!!"

Then, the Hedgehog felt the Wide-mouthed Frog and said, "You are slimy, slippery, and my, you have a great big mouth, pause....... I know, you are a Brighton Antiques Dealer !!!"

Portrait of the Infamous Brighton Antiques Knocker Boy