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Friday, July 31, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Hitting Corks in a Barrel of Water !!!!

Career burglar jailed for eight years

A THIEF who committed nearly 50 burglaries including at least one in Suffolk is today beginning an eight-year jail term.

Peter Sonny Martin O'Halloran, of no fixed address, is believed to have netted property worth up to £750,000.

The 34-year-old also gave £18,000 from his haul to his girlfriend Rebekah Holland, of Ipswich, leaving her a bagful of money and a note professing his love.

O'Halloran was sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court after being caught in Wandsworth in February following an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch programme following a nationwide manhunt led by Gloucestershire Constabulary.

He had previously pleaded guilty to nine counts of burglary. His targets included one home in Dullingham, near Newmarket, and another offence of transferring criminal property.

He also admitted to a further 38 burglaries, which were taken into consideration when sentencing him.

Among the offences he was questioned about was a burglary in Walsham le-Willows, near Stowmarket where cash, silverware and other property were stolen on January 3 last year.

He was also wanted for a break in at the home of a former Jockey Club steward at Kirtling, near Newmarket in which hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of rare antiques and racing memorabilia were taken in November 2006.

At the time of his arrest, O'Halloran had been wanted for almost two years, both on recall to prison for breach of licence conditions and for questioning in relation to a series of burglaries across southern and central England.

A national media appeal was made for information as to his whereabouts, he was listed on Crimestoppers' Most Wanted website and also featured on Crimewatch.

Detective sergeant Dave Doherty, who led the investigation for Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: “This arrest and subsequent conviction is a perfect example of the excellent cooperation that exists between constabularies.”

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Firle Place, Glynde Place, Cluster Alert !!!!

Two burglaries from nearby stately homes in East Sussex in the past week could be connected, police have said.

On Thursday night, two silver chandeliers worth about £20,000 were stolen from Glynde Place, in Glynde.

If followed the theft of rare Sevres porcelain valued at £1m from Firle Place, in Firle, on Sunday night.

Det Ch Insp Mike Ashcroft, of Sussex Police, said although there were differences in the two robberies, there were also similarities.

Glynde Place, an Elizabethan manor house, is home to the Viscount and Viscountess Hampden, while Firle Place has been the home of the Gage family for more than 500 years,

Both have been used as film and TV locations and are open to the public.

A pair of identical vases made in 1763 and a Hollandaise Nouveau vase were among items stolen from the porcelain collection at Firle Place.

Owner Lord Gage described it as a "personal loss".

"It does look as though it was a completely professional job.

"We thought it was like Fort Knox, the burglar knew what he was doing... the collection we thought was completely safe has now been impaired," he said, adding that the items were of "national importance".

"Every insurance company will know about it, every museum. Already all the customs will have been advised.

"Really, these pieces will be impossible to get rid of," Lord Gage said.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Firle Place, The Daddy of Porcelain Thefts !!!!

'Cool' burglar stole £1million collection after exposing single flaw in CCTV system

Lord Gage today described the daring thief who stole his £1million porcelain collection as 'a very cool burglar'.
The Viscount said the intruder had exposed a single blind spot in his extensive CCTV system at the 15th century country estate, Firle Place.
The thief stole dozens of items from cabinets brimming with rare porcelain treasures and made his escape without alerting a single member of the household, and even cleared up after himself.
The stately home near Lewes, East Sussex, is where BBC series Jonathan Creek is filmed.
Lord Henry Nicholas Gage said the items included Sevres masterpieces and precious family heirlooms and had been stolen from right under their noses.
'He was certainly a very cool burglar indeed,' he said.
'We caught him coming in on our CCTV cameras and it is obvious that he was a total professional.
'The man had a ladder and glass cutters which he used to get through a window and into the Long Gallery.
'Somehow he managed to find the only blind spot in the room which was excluded from our CCTV footage.
'The fact that there were blind spots in our system is something that I was completely unaware of, but obviously he wasn't.
'Clearly no system is perfect.'
The Viscount, 75, said his family are offering a substantial reward for the safe return of the collection.
'The last time we had a major burglary was in 1953.
Of course there have been a few minor incidents over the years, but absolutely nothing of this scale or magnitude.
'The man completely cleaned out the two cabinets and then cleaned up after himself.
'Just how he suceeeded in getting back down the ladder with two cabinets worth of valuable porcelain I'll never know,' he said.
'There were a number of people in the house at the time and nobody noticed a thing. It's a complete mystery.'
The burglary, which took place on Sunday evening, was over before midnight, but it was not until 9am the following morning when staff realised the elaborate theft had taken place.
And it was only when the burglar alarms were triggered by accident, that they were alerted.
The Gage family's ancestors have lived at Firle Place for more than 500 years.
The Viscount's family stretch back for centuries and include advisors to King Henry VIII and the man who commanded British forces during the American War of Independence.
All have resided at Firle Place, which is so grand that it is often used as a film set and is now open to the public.
The pieces of stolen porcelain had been among the most valuable items on show, including a pair of identical vases made in 1763 and an extremely rare figurine by Hollandaise Nouveau.
Other prized assets on view at the country estate are paintings by the Renaissance artist Raphael and Anthony Van Dyck, who was court painter to King Charles I.
Lord Gage said he was appalled visitors had lost the chance to see some of their most beautiful artefacts.
'They were collected by the 3rd Earl Cooper during the 19th century and then came into the family via my mother.
'It's a very sad loss, especially for the viewing public, as these items were of such great rarity.'
A spokesman for Sussex Police said that detectives were pursuing numerous lines of inquiry to recover the priceless antiques.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Firle Place, Déjà vu

Burglars steal antiques worth £1million from stately home where Jonathan Creek is filmed

Rare antiques worth £1million have been stolen from a stately home in the heart of the English countryside.

Burglars raided the mansion, used to film TV shows including Jonathan Creek, and stole important pieces of Sevres porcelain, including a pair of identical vases made in 1763.
The thieves also swiped a rare Hollandaise Nouveau vase from Firle Place near Lewes, East Sussex.

The historic mansion has been the home of the Gage family for more than 500 years and its surrounding parkland is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty at the foot of the South Downs.

Lord Gage, owner of Firle Place, said: 'I and my son Henry are shocked by the crass nature of this burglary which will prevent members of the public viewing this historic porcelain.'

The estate, estimated to be worth £10million has been hit by burglars before.

In December 2004 antiques worth £100,000 were snatched from the stately home and in 2001 two antique tables worth more than £10,000 were stolen during an open day
The furniture was taken from the drawing room and at the time police said it appeared the thieves paid their £4.50 entrance fee to get into the house and then carried off the two small tables.

The house, designed to look like a French chateau, has 14 bedrooms and is surrounded by manicured lawns.

The Gage family have been living there since 1475 and the mansion houses one of England's finest collections of art - including paintings by Van Dyck and Gainsborough - antique furniture and porcelain worth millions.

The house is open to the public in the summer months.
Sussex police said last night that reward may be offered to members of the public with information that leads to the recovery of the stolen property.

Detective Sergeant Simon Atkins, leading the investigation, said police were conducting a 'thorough investigation' after the raid, which happened sometime between Sunday and Monday, to locate the missing property and bring the criminals to justice.
Art Hostage Comments:
Comments to follow...............................

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers, Yes We Cannes !!

Raiders wearing Hawaiian shirts take £13m in gems from Cartier's Cannes shop in broad daylight

Robbers wearing Hawaiian shirts have stolen jewellery worth £13 million from a Cartier store in the film stars' playground of Cannes.

The daylight raid bore all the hall marks of the Pink Panthers, the notorious gang responsible for similar crimes all over the world.

A man with a deep suntan and 'very colourful clothing including a shirt straight out of Honolulu' marched into the jewellers in the French Riviera resort on Monday.
'He pulled out a hand gun and calmly told everybody to lie on the floor,' added a police source.

'This included staff who were instructed to keep their heads down while all of the jewels, watches and other luxury goods were cleared away.
'Two accomplices wearing masks and carrying stun grenades and other arms arrived to assist.
'They wore masks but also flowery shirts. Once everything was cleared away they calmly strode out to waiting motorbikes and sped off down the promenade.'
The raid took place on the famous Croisette and just a few yards from the famous Carlton Hotel, which is a favourite with Hollywood A-listers including George Clooney and Angelina Jolie.

It is at the centre of the Cannes Film Festival every year, when stars arrive for a week of film releases, parties and awards.

Police fear that the Pink Panthers, who are renowned for targeting glamorous hotspots like Cannes, are now operating full time in the south of France.

The gang is behind the theft of some £150 million worth of goods from luxury stores during the past two decades.

Many are ex-soldiers from eastern Europe with past convictions for violence.

The gang made its name in 1993 after stealing a £500,000 diamond from a jewellers in London's Mayfair and hiding it in a jar of face cream.

They copied this tactic from the 1963 Pink Panther film, starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau.

The Pink Panthers' attention to detail led one criminologist describing their work as 'artistry'.

In Biarritz, for example, they applied fresh paint to a bench opposite the jewellery store they were about to rob to deter potential witnesses from sitting on it.

In 2005, they raided a Saint-Tropez jewellers dresssed in similary flowery shirts before escaping in a speed boat.
Interpol, the international police organisation, said there may be as many as 200 Pink Panther criminals, most Serb or Montenegrin nationals with military experience.

A Cannes police spokesman said: 'The latest raid has all the hallmarks of one carried out by the Pink Panthers. We are investigating every lead while we search for the three suspects.'
Art Hostage Comments:
Last Month it was reported the net was closing in on the Pink Panthers and we see this heist right under the noses of Authorities.
Dragan and Jelly ???

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Fairfax Barometer Thief's Bullshit Means Only Two Years Jailtime, Released In 1 Year !!

A thief, Simon Hargreaves, stole a 300 year-old barometer to order from a museum by unscrewing it from a wall and smuggling it out under his coat, a court heard.

Hargreaves stole the £150,000, 3ft antique from Fairfax House, a Georgian town-house museum in York, leaving a yawning gap on the wall.

It was not until the following day that staff realised it was missing and checked the CCTV system, where they discovered footage of Hargreaves removing the piece.

The barometer dates from 1695 and is by celebrated craftsman Daniel Quare, whose customers included the Royal Family and whose work can still be seen in Windsor Castle, the Science Museum and other high-profile venues.

York Crown Court was told that Hargreaves, 38, who has 90 previous convictions, mainly for shoplifting, had lost his catering job just days before he was offered £200 to steal silverware from the museum.

Jumping at the chance to earn some cash Hargreaves, of Wakefield, West Yorks., agreed and went to the house - which was built in 1762.

Prosecutor Stephanie Hancock said that once inside Hargreaves was shocked at the extravagance of the silverware which was tightly secured in glass cabinets, watched by CCTV cameras.

Instead his attention turned to the ivory and brass-plated barometer.

Hargreaves, who pleaded guilty to the theft, was arrested on June 6 after police tracked him down using CCTV and fingerprints they had found on a brochure he had handled as he walked around the museum.

The barometer was recovered on the same day as Hargreaves' arrest in good condition near a landmark in Fulford, North Yorks., by police following an anonymous tip-off to Crimestoppers.

Mitigating, Andrew Hatton said: "He had no idea the value of the barometer but it looked easily stealable and was insecurely fastened. He thought that was an indication of it's value.

He added: "He was completely dumbfounded by what he had done. Once he realised the significance of the piece that was taken he took steps to ensure it was returned."

Sentencing him to two years in prison, Recorder Simon Bourne-Arton QC said: "You have got a very bad and extensive record but in the main for petty offences, but they have been persistent and they are numerous. You have stepped up a league here in the dishonesty and the offending carried out.

"It is no accident the barometer you stole is of this high value. You knew it was a valuable item. If you take part in a professional offence such as this you get a professional sentence that follows."

Art Hostage Comments:

Hargreaves is smiling in the top photo as he knew he could rely on the secret letter handed to the Judge by Police as Hargreaves has informed on those who ordered the Barometer theft and Police are now closely watching the named individuals and will pounce when they catch them in the act.
No mention of the woman who accompanied Hargreaves during the Fairfax Barometer theft.
Hargreaves threatened to inform on those who ordered the Fairfax Barometer theft if they did not hand back the barometer.
These guys handed back the barometer to try and keep their names out of the investigation.
However, Hargreaves went ahead and informed on them anyway and Police now know who ordered this theft, but cannot prove that unless Hargreaves would give evidence to that fact, which Hargreaves would not be prepared to do, so far that is.
The Daniel Quare Barometer was the intended target from the start and any reference to silver is complete bullshit.
Those who ordered this theft were well aware the silver in Fairfax House is under lock and key and it was the Barometer that was identified as the target.
In this particular instance authorities can count themselves very, very lucky to have recovered the Daniel Quare Barometer and this should not be taken for granted as other high value artworks will not recovered in such an easy manner.
There is more to come out and Art Hostage will update..................

Stolen Art Watch, Anthony Blok Underworld Lawyer Jailed, Brighton Antiques Mafia Laugh All The Way To The Bank !!!!

Solicitor jailed over bid to sell stolen £500,000 painting

A LENGTHY police investigation has led to the jailing of a retired solicitor, convicted on charges linked to money laundering and efforts to sell a stolen £500,000 painting.

Anthony Blok, aged 72, was jailed for four years on July 1 after being found guilty of money laundering, perjury and perverting the course of justice. Croydon Crown Court heard how Blok had abused his privileged position as a solicitor by receiving cash to pay the bail of one of his clients, concealing cash in his office and attempting to sell a stolen painting.

One of Blok’s clients, ‘Brighton Knocker’ Michael Underwood, took a painting by Sir William Orpen, valued at up to £500,000, from the Isle Of Man home of the artist’s descendants. Underwood was charged with laundering the painting in the UK with Blok, but he fell ill the morning he was due to give evidence and is now considered unfit to stand trial.

He would rather have gone to prison than reveal where the painting was, said the Art Loss Register.

The painting was entered as stolen on the Art Loss Register after the theft in 1993 and it was searched by a gallery that had been offered the painting shortly thereafter. The police were notified of the match and Blok tried to get the painting removed from the Register in order that it could be sold and threatened the Art Loss Register with legal action if they did not do so.

The Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit launched an unsuccessful operation to recover the painting, but when the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 came into force, it meant the Met’s Money Laundering Investigation Team could investigate Blok further.

As well as uncovering evidence of corruption and money laundering, the police seized £30,000 in cash when they searched Blok’s office in 2006, but the painting was never recovered.

Julian Radcliffe, the chairman of the Art Loss Register, who gave evidence at the trial, said: “We were able to protect a legitimate dealer, who searched with us, from buying a stolen picture and assist the police with their investigation.

“Simon Muggleton, a retired detective from the Sussex Police Antique Squad first gave evidence concerning tactics used by Underwood. DS Mark Radford of the Metropolitan Police is to be congratulated on his persistence to bring this case to a successful conviction. We will be pursuing those involved for damages on behalf of the victims where the property has not been returned.”

Art Hostage Comments:
Art Hostage will post extensive comments shortly....................

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Fairfax Barometer Theft, Unlucky Jonah Hargreaves, York Crown Court Monday July 13th

Art Hostage has learnt the Jinxed, Jonah, Simon Hargreaves is up, second of the day, in front of MR Recorder BOURNE-ARTON QC at York Crown Court number 2.

Will be interesting to see if the background into this case is reported.
This case does have a twist and we may not see the sentencing Monday, an adjournment may be on the cards.

The plural for Home-Boy is Holmes !!