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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers, Jewels, Watches, and Now $100 million Cash !!!!

Police probe Serb ties to helicopter heist

Police in Serbia suspect the mastermind behind last week's brazen helicopter heist is a 40-year-old Bosnian Serb living in Belgrade known as the 'gangster king'.

The man has an extensive criminal record and has lived in Sweden in the past, but has lived in Serbian capital for the past six years, according to Austrian news bureau APA.

Swedish police confirm that the man is of interest to their investigation.

The 40-year-old is also listed as a friend of one of the arrested suspects on the social networking website, Facebook.

According to newspaper Vecernje Novosti, Swedish investigators are set to arrive in Belgrade on Tuesday to exchange information with their Serbian colleagues.

Serbian Home Secretary Ivica Dacic also confirms that the national police attempted to warn their Swedish colleagues of the planned coup.

The Serbs also warned Swedish police that members of the former special operations unit, the Red Berets, were involved in preparations for the robbery.

The Red Berets were an “anti-terrorist unit” within the Serbian-Yugoslavian police.

Their leader, Milorad Ulemek, otherwise known as Legija, has been sentenced twice to 40 years imprisonment for the murder of prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003, and for the murder of Yugoslavian former president Ivan Stambolic in 2000.

The Red Berets have also been accused of war crimes in Kosovo.

The group was disbanded after Djindjic's murder. Aside from those members that have been arrested, little is known of the group.

Swedish police are currently holding six suspects in Stockholm whom they believe had a role in the early morning raid on the G4S cash depot in Västeberga south of Stockholm.

In emerged on Tuesday that the youngest of the six, a 21-year-old male, was in police custody less than two weeks ago on suspicions of having robbed an armoured vehicle south of Stockholm.

The 21-year-old man has the most extensive criminal record of all the arrested suspects and is being held on suspicion of being an accessory to aggravated robbery.

The second robbery in which the man is suspected to have been involved transpired on September 18th in Kärrtorp, when a guard stopped an armoured vehicle to refill an automatic teller machine.

One of the men threatened the female guard with an axe, the other held her at gunpoint.

The pair grabbed a bag of cash and made off in a vehicle that was later abandoned and exchanged for a moped.

A short time afterwards, police arrested two men suspected of the robbery, including the 21-year-old.

Police requested to have the men remanded in custody, but the 21-year-old was released due to insufficient evidence.

“Suspicions against him remain. He was found at the scene of the crime behaving strangely,” criminal inspector Sven-Olof Karlsson told the TT news agency.

Karlsson was surprised when he discovered on Monday that the 21-year-old was one of the arrested suspects in the Västberga coup.

“I was surprised when he showed up in these circumstances, but I'll never be surprised again,” he added.

The man is well known by police in Stockholm's southern districts. His previous convictions include abuse, illegal threats, narcotics-related offences and obstruction of justice.

Police have clamped down on communication with the press and will not be releasing any new information pertaining to the investigation of the helicopter robbery.

“At the present time we are not releasing any information at all about the ongoing investigation,” said Varg Gyllander, spokesperson for the National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalpolisen).

Such a measure is highly unusual and may relate to the fact that at least ten of the suspected robbers remain at large.

There remains a significant risk that these men may tamper with important evidence, or hide themselves abroad.

TT/The Local ( 656 6518)

Swedish Justice Minister Ask:
"Shut up and do your job"

The Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask has told off the Swedish Police for the amount of leaks from the investigation team - leaks that according to TV 4 news are due to competition between the national police and the police in Stockholm.

Ask says that she is surprised by the inadequate coordination between various police authorities."I do hope that none of them have got time for general gossip, and that they instead shut up and do their job," Ask told TV 4 news.

Art Hostage Comments:
All the while back in Belgrade, large amounts of Plum brandy are being consumed amongst the Pink Panthers, Police and Political Paymasters.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Sweden Cash Heist, Helicopter Should Have Been Burnt Out, Culprits Should Have Fled Sweden !!!! Serbia,Montenegro Connection !!!!!!

Pilot, 3 others, arrested in wake of daring Swedish heist

Stockholm - A 34-year-old pilot was one of four men arrested Sunday by Swedish police in connection with a spectacular cash heist earlier in the week in which thieves used a helicopter to raid a security firm in Stockholm.

The four were arrested in early morning raids around Stockholm.

Criminals used a stolen helicopter and explosives in the early morning raid on Wednesday at the G4S cash depot in the suburb of Vastberga.

They escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash, having given themselves a headstart by planting a fake bomb near the police helicopter that would have been used in any pursuit.

The criminals' helicopter was later found abandoned in a field north of the Swedish capital.

G4S has offered a reward of 1 million dollars for information leading to arrests. However, police spokesman Arne Andersson said the award would not be paid out if the men arrested Sunday turn out to be the criminals, as they were tracked down using investigative methods, not tips.

Aviation experts said the pilot who flew the helicopter was likely very skilled, citing the pre-dawn flight to the depot building and the location of landing site close to high trees.
Attorney Leif Silbersky has been appointed to defend one of the men arrested on Sunday.
“He asked to have me as his lawyer. I’ve met him and we’ve had a long set of negotiations.
Now I’m waiting for the police to interrogate my client,” Silbersky told TT.
According to Silbersky, his client is a Swedish citizen and he denies any involvement in the helicopter robbery.
According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, Silbersky’s client is one of 552 people registered with the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) as having a licence to operate a helicopter and is s resident of the Roslagen region north of Stockholm.
The helicopter which was used in the heist was stolen from a Roslagens helikopterflyg AB, a helicopter training company based in the region.
One of the owners of the company said that the theft would have required familiarity with the area.
In August of this year, the 34-year-old suspect was convicted by the Stockholm District Court for a number of drug-related crimes. He confessed and was fined the equivalent of 110 days’ pay.

The suspects include a 34-year-old from Norrtälje, a 38-year-old from Stockholm, a 36-year-old man from Enskede in southern Stockholm, a 31-year-old man from Hägersten and a 29-year-old man from Norsborg, south of Stockholm.

All are suspected of aggravated robbery for their role in the Hollywood-style robbery at the G4S cash depot in Västberga south of Stockholm early Wednesday morning.

A 21-year-old man from Bagarmossen has also been taken into custody on suspicions of being an accessory to grand robbery, according to documents submitted to the Södertorn District Court.

The 34-year-old suspect is a former student of Roslagen Helikopterflyg, a Swedish helicopter training academy in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm.

“He completed his education here around fifteen years ago, but he has never worked for us,” said head instructor Christer Öhlund to the TT news agency.

According to Öhlund, the 34-year-old only attained a private flying certificate. He does not have certification to fly as a professional pilot.

The man has had regular contact with the training academy, routinely hiring a helicopter for private flights. The last time he did so was in summer of this year.

According to flight instructor, the school was planning to hire the suspect as a photographer for the company, but the plans were never carried out.

Öhlund was shocked to discover that the man was being held on suspicions of involvement in the robbery.

“I don't think he's guilty. I can't imagine that he could have done this. He's just too nice and personable to have carried out such a thing,” he said.

Attorney Leif Silbersky is defending the 34-year-old and hinted at how his client was feeling following his arrest.

“A person never feels good when they are arrested and consider themselves to be completely innocent,” he said.

Interrogations have been held for the suspects, according to the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen).

The Swedish police remain tight-lipped regarding any additional information, and refuse to reveal whether the suspect knew one another before the robbery was carried out.

District prosecutor Leif Görts is due to announce on Wednesday at noon whether he plans to request that the suspects be remanded in custody.
Serbia and Montenegro Connection

Officials: Serbs took part in Sweden chopper heist
BELGRADE, Serbia -- Former Serb paramilitaries took part in last week's brazen helicopter raid of a cash depot in Stockholm, Serbian police officials said Monday.
Former members of the "Red Berets" paramilitary unit who fought wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s took part in the heist, along with Swedish robbers, said Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, who heads Serbia's police.
Serbian police "handed certain information about a criminal group which was preparing a robbery" in Stockholm to the Swedish embassy in Belgrade a month ago, but Swedish authorities did not react or contact Belgrade after that, said Milorad Veljovic, a senior Serbian police official.
Swedish police had been forewarned by counterparts in Serbia about plans to rob a Stockholm cash depot, according to media reports. Six people have been taken into custody for their suspected involvement in the crime.
Serbian police told the Aftonbladet newspaper they aware of plans to rob the Västberga cash depot and alerted Swedish police that a coup was imminent.
"We gave them everything that was needed to stop the robbery," Serbian Chief of Police, Milorad Veljovic, told the newspaper.
"We really did everything in our power short of going to Sweden and stopping the robbery ourselves."
A police source confirmed for TT that Swedish police had received a tip regarding the planned robbery from the Serbian police, but rejected the assumption that they had neglected the information.
According to the information provided, the robbery was due to take place a week earlier.
At that time Swedish police were closely monitoring the robbers in an operation referred to as KKP 4.
The operation entailed monitoring a number of different cash depots and temporarily moving police helicopters from the police heliport at Myttinge on Värmdo to another location.
"But because nothing happened, the operation was called off.
Then it happened anyway, only later on," the source said.
Police helicopters at the Myttinge heliport were subsequently unable to respond when the robbery took place on Wednesday morning of last week because of fake bomb had been placed near the hangar.On Sunday, Swedish police took a total of six people into custody for their suspected involvement the robbery
Background on the Six in Custody:
Male, 34-years-old: Dubbed 'The TV Man' by the Swedish media, he lives in a villa in the Roslagen archipelago with his wife and two young children. According to Metro newspaper, the man is widely recognized in Swedish media circles, having participated in several large television productions including 'Expedition Robinson', 'Idol' and TV4's 'Kändisdjungeln' (Celebrity Jungle). The 34-year old is a licensed helicopter pilot and is believed to have flown the helicopter during the robbery. He has a history of narcotics-related convictions (cocaine), as well as a weapons infraction. According to an unconfirmed report by Dagens Nyheter, the man has certain connections to security company G4S and may have been threatened into participating in the crime.
Male, 31-years-old: Referred to as 'The Martial Artist' in the press, he is a recognized martial arts competitor and was recently placed on the police's Nova list of the 150 most criminally active individuals in Sweden. He was convicted in September last year on charges of assault for head-butting someone during a dispute over a parking place. His trainer has also been remanded in custody for his suspected participation in an Umeå robbery in May of this year.
Male, 29-years-old: Grew up south of Stockholm, Serbian background. Convicted for stealing an emerald worth around 100,000 kronor in the year 2000. According to Metro newspaper, the man is married with no children and a resident of Botkyrka in southern Stockholm.
Male, 38-years-old: Grew up south of Stockholm, Serbian background. No convictions. According to unconfirmed reports, the man belonged to a criminal youth network known as the 'Fittja Boys' who operated in Botkyrka during the 80's and 90's. The 38-year-old is acquainted with a suspected mafia boss from the former Yugoslavia, and with the 36-year-old man also suspected of participating in the helicopter robbery.
Male, 36-years-old: Raised in southern Stockholm, Turkish background. The man was also involved with the 'Fittja Boys', but has no prior convictions. He is also thought to be connected to the man suspected of masterminding the robbery.
Male, 21-years-old: Convicted of several crimes including theft, assault, obstructions of justice, illegal threats and narcotics crimes. Has been drug free during periods of his teenage life. Denies any involvement or knowledge of the crime.
Art Hostage Comments:
Milorad Veljovic need not worry, I am certain he will be rewarded very well for his efforts in telling Swedish Police the robbery was going to happen a week earlier, which caused the Swedish Police helicopters to be spaced out !!!!
It's amazing that such a well thought out heist falls because those responsible did not burn out the Helicopter or getaway vehicles.
Professional Criminals would remember to leave open the windows for Oxygen to circulate, otherwise the fire will splutter and go out.
Furthermore, an essential ingredient in any heist must be the culprits leave the country immediately after the heist.
Staying around thinking they can ride out the storm cost Mickey McAvoy 25 years and means the Kent cash robbers are serving long jail sentences, not forgetting the alleged Graff robbers who are now in jail awaiting trial.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Sweden, Helicoper Cash Heist, Modus Vivendi Follows Belgium,Greece Jailbreaks !!! Vermeer Alert !!!

Gang use helicopter in Hollywood-style raid on Swedish cash depot•

Rooftop break-in at British security firm in Stockholm
• Police foiled as thieves haul up bags of cash

Sweden has seen its fair share of daring cash robberies in recent years, from fake bombs used as decoys to the hold-up of luggage handlers at airports. But a raid by a gang that landed from a helicopter on to the roof of a cash depot in Stockholm today and loaded up with bags of money has foxed police.

The masked gunmen jumped out on to the roof of the G4S cash depot in the Västberga area just after 5am, smashed windows with a sledgehammer and made their way inside. Around 20 staff were in the building at the time of the attack, many believed to have been involved in counting money.

Once the gang was inside, witnesses reported hearing several loud bangs. The helicopter casually hovered for 15 minutes waiting for the men to load up bags of stolen cash from the roof-top. One witness told Swedish TV: "Two men hoisted themselves down. I saw when they hoisted up money, too."

Meanwhile, a police Swat team was seen desperately trying to enter the cash depot with a battering ram.

The police were unable to call out their own helicopters because suspected explosives had been placed at the aircraft hangar in a bag marked "bomb". "We've found what we believe is a live bomb to hinder our response," a police spokesman, Rikard Johansson, said. Small spiked objects had also been spread out on the road near the depot in an attempt to hinder the police from approaching the scene.

"I've never experienced anything like it," said a police spokesman, Kjell Lindgren.

Another spokesman added: "What we know is that they forced down some kind of wall to get in. We don't want to comment on how they did it."

No staff were injured in the robbery. Investigators said the thieves wore masks and were believed to have carried automatic weapons and detonated explosives during the 20-minute raid.

An abandoned, stolen Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter was later found in a recreational area near a lake north of Stockholm, about 15 miles from the cash depot.

One witness living near the helicopter's landing site said he had been watching a news report of the robbery when he heard engine noise at 7.30am, he looked out and saw a white and red helicopter flying low over his house.

"I thought it can't have been the one [involved in the robbery]. But now I realise the helicopter I saw is the one that landed here in Skavloten."

The British-based G4S, one of the world's largest security companies, did not say how much money was in the depot at the time of the raid. A spokesman said the gang had made off with "an unconfirmed sum of money".

The Stockholm depot stores cash that is transported to banks and other businesses in Sweden. Swedish media speculated that the depot could have been holding several million Swedish kronor, including money to be transported to cash machines. The company offered a reward for information without specifying the sum.

One person was detained in a Stockholm suburb in connection with the robbery, but was not officially declared a suspect.

Last year, a group of men broke into a mail processing centre in Gothenburg, paralysing large parts of Sweden's second largest city after dropping spikes, burning cars in different areas and leaving suspected explosive devices in the centre.

In 2006, Gothenburg's international airport was partially closed after masked men rammed a gate and held up luggage handlers as they were unloading crates of foreign currency worth 7.8m kronor (£700,000) from a passenger aircraft. Four years earlier, robbers pulled off a similar robbery at Arlanda airport, Stockholm, when staff were loading foreign currency worth 43m kronor on to an aircraft.

Past hauls


1983: thieves raided a warehouse at Heathrow, with inside information from a security guard. They threatened staff with petrol and stole £26m of gold bullion and diamonds.


1992: five men hijacked a helicopter and stole mail bags reportedly containing 10m francs, after attacking a plane at Bastia airport.

Millennium Star diamond

2000: robbers with a JCB broke in to the Millennium Dome in Greenwich. Speedboat escape foiled by tip-off to police.


2006: £53m stolen from a depot in Kent after manager was abducted by a gang posing as police officers.

Art Hostage Comments:

Helicopters can be used for Jailbreaks, cash robberies, Jewel Heists and high value iconic art thefts.

We have had the first two, awaiting three and four.

Exactly how much cash was taken in this heist, authorities know the amount but the thieves are still counting !!!

Timetable of the Cash Heist

Wednesday 5.15am - A helicopter is witnessed above the roof of the G4S cash depot in Västberga in Stockholm by staff at the National Rail Administration (Banverket) offices directly opposite.

5.19am - Police receive a call about the robbery. Witnesses watch as the stolen white Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter lets out three or four passengers on the roof. Explosions are heard as the robbers enter the building while the helicopter hovers above the building.

Several sacks of what is presumed to be money are then seen raised into the helicopter on a rope.

5.25am - The first police patrol arrives at the scene in Västberga but are ordered not to act as the robbers continue to load sacks of money into the helicopter. They have been ordered to await the arrival of the National Task Force.

5.35am - With the police looking on the helicopter lifts off from the roof of the building and heads north. The robbers had lain caltrops on the road routes out away from the building in order to hinder the police.

The National Task Force enters the building.

5.49am - The police helicopter station at Myttingen on Värmdö is notified but pilots can not lift off as a suspected bomb is found in front of the helicopter hanger.

7am - The police confirm that none of the 21 G4S staff were hurt in the attack.

7.37am - Explosives are found in the building and police extend the cordon around the depot.

8.15am - The helicopter is found in woodland near Skavlöten in Arninge north of Stockholm.

8.42am - The police escort the G4S staff out from the cash depot.

1pm - police dispose of the suspected bomb at the helicopter station on Värmdö with the help of a water cannon.

3pm - Police hold a press conference where they classify the crime as an extraordinary event and are thus able to call on the resources of police forces from across the country.

By 6pm in the evening the police had arrested two men in connection with the robbery as they combed the Stockholm underworld for clues to what is described as a well-organised professional heist.

Criminology professor Leif G W Persson said on Wednesday that the cash depot could have housed up to a billion kronor ($146 million) in cash.

Media reports on Thursday indicate that a mafia boss from the Balkans could be the brains behind the robbery.

It is also reported that Stockholm police had previously received information that a helicopter heist was being planned in the area but that the National Task Force had been conducting surveillance at the wrong depot, in Bromma in the north-west of the city.
Art Hostage Comments:
News coming in from Serbia and Montenegro.

There are many fingers in this pie

Roots of The Heist

“Top gangsters” make helicopter jailbreak

Hijackers leave accomplice behind to pick up three robbers

Three men described as "top gangsters" escaped last Thursday in a spectacular helicopter jailbreak from Bruges prison - just hours after the justice minister, kitted out in full prison officer's uniform, had made an official visit to the jail.

The three men - Ashraf Sekkaki, Abdelhaq Melloul-Khayari and Mohamed Johri - were picked up on the exercise yard of the wing of the prison reserved for long-term male prisoners. The helicopter had been hired by a man and a woman in Diksmuide for a tourist overflight of Bruges, then hijacked at gunpoint. The pilot set down inside the exercise yard, and one of the hijackers was dropped off, police presume because the helicopter would otherwise have been too heavy. It then picked up the three escapees and took off.

Soon after, at Aalter near the E40 motorway, the gang carjacked a Mercedes and forced the driver to take them as far as Melle outside Ghent, where she was freed unharmed. As Flanders Today went to press, the whereabouts of the escapees and their accomplice were unknown.

News reports have concentrated on Sekkaki, aged 25, who has a record of numerous offences committed as a minor, and who has not been out of prison since he was first sentenced as an adult at the age of 16 - other than during one of his many escapes from custody, one of which lasted a year. His record includes armed robberies, carjackings and tiger kidnapping (where bank employees are held hostage while their premises are robbed). In 2007 his brother was caught with a rope-ladder and firearm when police raided his home on a tip that Sekkaki was planning an escape by helicopter. Sekkaki himself has always maintained the plan was a joke.

In letters sent to De Morgen newspaper prior to the escape and published last week, Sekkaki claims he is a victim of a system which "spat him out". "I have hate feelings, a sort of constriction in my stomach that shrinks and grows like a tumour," he is quoted as writing. "We carry our imprisonment with us like a sickness. But the ‘hospital' does nothing to help its patients. On the contrary it perpetuates their complaint, and injects new germs that will later cause new illnesses to break out."

Melloul-Khayari, aged 42, is associated with the gang of Hassan Maâche, responsible for robbery with extreme violence and specialised in attacking security vans. He is also a recidivist escapee: once he walked out of the front gate of Verviers prison having changed places with his brother.

Johri, meanwhile, is serving five years for armed robberies of a Lidl supermarket, a bank branch and a toyshop.

Sekkaki was recently transferred from the high-security wing of the prison to the general wing for long-term prisoners. Only the high-security yard is fitted with security cables designed to make a helicopter escape impossible. Bruges was one of five prisons named as priorities by former justice minister Laurette Onkelinx in 2007 for cables or nets following the escape in October of that year from Ittre prison of Nordin Benallal. Last week the prisons directorate blamed the public works department for the lack of progress, pointing out that an application had been submitted to cover other yards in Bruges prison. "But we are not the owners of the building," a spokesman said. "We can only state our priorities and then hope they are carried out."

The escape is embarrassing for the government not only for the fact that the promise of escape-proof nets appears to have been shelved, but because the current justice minister, Stefaan De Clerck, was on the scene on the day of the escape. De Clerck was on a visit to the prison on Thursday morning, and for the cameras of the VRT changed into a prison officer's uniform to walk the gangways and see what the job might feel like.

• In other news, and not totally unrelated, the man suspected of being the mastermind behind the biggest-ever diamond heist in Antwerp has been arrested in possession of a quantity of stones. Leonardo Notabartolo, 57, was stopped at a routine traffic check in Milan, and his brand-new BMW searched after police realised his identity. They found just over one kilo of diamonds hidden in the car in 21 packages. The stones are now being examined to see if they are part of the loot from the robbery of the strongroom of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre on the weekend of St Valentine's in February 2003. Notabartolo, who served six years in Hasselt prison for the robbery, claims he bought the stones legitimately. The takings from the heist, estimated at €100 million, have never been recovered.

Bank robbers' daring helicopter jail break... for the SECOND time in three years

Greek police are scouring the country for two convicts who orchestrated a brazen helicopter prison break for the second time in three years.
Detectives arrested four prison guards and the helicopter pilot this morning.

Three top Greek officials were fired for the security lapse, and the justice minister called for an investigation into the bank accounts of all guards working in the wing where the two convicts were held.
Vassilis Paleokostas, a bank robber who is among Greece's most notorious convicts, and Alket Rizaj, 34, were picked up on Sunday afternoon by a helicopter that flew over the courtyard of Athens' Korydallos prison.

The two had escaped the exact same way from the same prison in June 2006, and had been due to appear in court Monday in connection with that escape.
Paleokostas, 42, had remained at large for more than two years until being recaptured last August.

While on the run, he is suspected of masterminding the June 2008 kidnapping of a prominent Greek industrialist, Giorgos Mylonas, who was held for 13 days until his family paid a ransom.
Sunday's prison break was yet another blow for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

His conservative government, which holds a razor-thin majority of one seat in Parliament, has been buffeted by financial scandals, weeks of extensive riots sparked by the fatal police shooting of a teenager in December and the re-emergence of domestic terrorism.
Karamanlis rejected opposition calls on Sunday for early elections but called a meeting for Monday to discuss the prison break.
Justice Minister Nikos Dendias fired three top officials for the escape - the ministry's top prison security official, the inspector-general of prisons and the head of the Korydallos prison.

'This (escape) was an insult which I will not accept ... I will take measures as harsh as necessary,' he said after visiting the prison Sunday evening.
A ministry official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, explained the bank investigation by saying that Paleokostas is believed to have some £5 million stashed away from the ransom reportedly paid to free Mylonas.
Although the exact details of Sunday's escape were unclear, the Justice Ministry said Paleokostas and his accomplice climbed a rope ladder thrown to them by a woman passenger in the helicopter.
Guards on the ground opened fire and the woman fired back with an automatic rifle, authorities said. No injuries were reported.
A local resident captured part of the escape on amateur video. The grainy footage shows a helicopter rising from the prison and flying off across the city after shots are heard.
The pilot was found later bound, gagged and with a hood over his head. He reportedly told police the helicopter was chartered by a couple who said they wanted to go from the town of Itea in central Greece to Athens.

He said he had been threatened with an automatic AK-47 rifle and a grenade and forced to fly to the prison.
Police announced that the helicopter, found abandoned near a highway north of Athens, was struck by a bullet that hit its fuel tank and sprung a leak.
The two convicts had been held in solitary confinement but were allowed to take their daily walk on the prison grounds together, despite their previous escape.
Paleokostas was serving prison sentences of more that 25 years for a 1995 kidnapping, several robberies and arms possession.
His previous escape operation had been masterminded by his elder brother Nikos, himself a convicted criminal who escaped from the same prison in 1990 during a mass breakout.
Nikos Paleokostas was recaptured in September 2006 and is still in jail. He has been convicted of 16 bank robberies.
Rizaj, an Albanian immigrant, was serving a life term for murder. He has also been charged with carrying out two contract killings while on the run after the June 2006 helicopter escape. He was recaptured in September that year.
Breaking News:
Possible, Vermeer Heist in Low Countries

Monday, September 21, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Tompion Clock Kidnapped and Held Art Hostage !!

AN IMPORTANT artefact worth an estimated £200,000 plus has been stolen from Levens Hall, near Kendal.

The Thomas Tompion ebony quarter repeating table clock was stolen at around 5am yesterday morning (Saturday).

The offenders gained access to the stately home by breaking into an outbuilding at the opposite side of the A6 and stealing a ladder.

They then scaled the perimeter of the hall and entered the building through a first floor window, setting off the audible alarm in the process.

After removing the timepiece, the men made off on foot along the A6.

The timepiece was damaged during the incident, with one of its four feet left at the scene of the crime.

Cumbria Police believe there were at least two offenders behind the incident and would like to speak to anyone who saw any suspicious people or vehicles in the area at the time.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Kendal Police on 0845-3300-247 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111

Art Hostage Comments:

Because of the high profile of this Tompion clock, this theft should be treated as a kidnapping and any notion the thieves will be rewarded should be dispelled.

If there are CCTV pictures then this should have a happy ending shortly.

The likelihood is the theft was carried out by relative locals and the window of opportunity to make a quick recovery is about four weeks.

Once the clock has changed hands into the underworld the demands will become unachievable and anyone trying to negotiate its return will be arrested and prosecuted.

No reward has been offered because there is a clear intention of not paying out any reward and the Underworld knows all rewards are subject to strict conditions that makes any recovery impossible unless there are arrests and the person who wants the reward becomes a registered Police informant.

These are the rules to which victims, insurers and art loss investigators are forced to adhere to.

to be continued...............

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Weisman Warhol Collection Whipped, We Want Wittman to Work Wonders !!!!!!

Stolen Art by Warhol Is Sought in California

LOS ANGELES — The theft of 10 silkscreen paintings by Andy Warhol has the Los Angeles Police Department searching for clues, but it has people in the art world scratching their heads, too.

The paintings were stolen from the West Los Angeles home of Richard L. Weisman, a businessman and prominent collector. A $1 million reward has been offered by Mr. Weisman for information leading to the paintings’ recovery.

On Friday, the Los Angeles police said that the paintings — images of athletes including Muhammad Ali, Chris Evert, Dorothy Hamill, Tom Seaver, Jack Nicklaus and O. J. Simpson — were taken from Mr. Weisman’s dining room. A housekeeper called the police; Mr. Weisman was out of town at the time.

Detective Donald Hrycyk, one of two investigators assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department’s art theft detail, said the paintings were stolen either on the day they were reported missing, Sept. 3, or the day before.

“It’s hard to say what they want to do with them, but it looks like somebody knew about these pieces,” Detective Hrycyk said Saturday. He said that there was no sign of forced entry and that other valuable artwork and possessions had not been taken.

Mr. Weisman commissioned the paintings, known as the “Athlete Series,” from Warhol in late 1977. Each measuring 40 inches square, the paintings were all signed by the artist and by the individual sports stars, said Vincent Fremont, the exclusive sales agent for paintings and drawings at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Warhol chronicled the project in his diaries that year. “Tom Seaver was adorable,” he wrote on July 18, 1977. “Athletes really do have fat in the right places, and they’re young in the right places.”

Still, 30 years later, the public did not see it that way. In 2007, Mr. Weisman’s set of the “Athlete Series” was the subject of an exhibition at Martin Summers Fine Art, a London gallery, where they were for sale as a group for about $28 million, said several art experts. But they did not sell.

Since then, the prices of Warhols, along with those of many other contemporary artists, have fallen. “These were sporting heroes of a particular moment,” said Brett Gorvy of Christie’s postwar and contemporary art department worldwide.

While some of the works were beautifully painted, by far the standout is the portrait of Muhammad Ali. “It is truly iconic,” Mr. Gorvy said. “Even today it would still make a huge amount.” In 2007, a similar image of the boxer brought $9.2 million when it was for sale at Christie’s in New York. The rest, Mr. Gorvy said, would probably be worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars apiece.

Mr. Weisman comes from a family of celebrated collectors. His father, Frederick Weisman, a Los Angeles businessman and philanthropist, started buying art in the late 1940s. Over the years, he bought examples of masters like Cézanne and Picasso, de Kooning, Rothko and Warhol. Some are on view at a foundation museum in Los Angeles.

Mr. Weisman’s mother, Marcia Weisman, is the sister of the billionaire Norton Simon and is also an art collector. In 2003 Richard Weisman published a book about his collection called “From Picasso to Pop.”

Even with the fame of the collection, art experts found it strange that anyone would walk off with just the “Athlete Series.”

“The Warhol market is too insular,” Mr. Gorvy said.

Tobias Meyer, international director of Sotheby’s contemporary art department, agreed.

“Stealing Warhols is a very bad idea,” Mr. Meyer said. “The art world has become so transparent, and all these works are so traceable, ultimately they become an untradeable asset.”
Detective Hrycyk said that thefts from private collections are relatively common in Los Angeles, where much of the most important art hangs on walls in the homes of wealthy studio executives and Hollywood stars.

Carol Vogel reported from New York and Solomon Moore from Los Angeles.

Art Hostage Comments:

Not Stolen, A Domestic Kidnapping !!!!!

More to follow..................

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Art Thieves Caught on the Fiddle in Germany, U.S. and New Zealand !!!

STOLEN CROSSES: Thieves who broke into the Waiouru army museum stole Victoria Crosses belonging to some (top left Randolph Gordon Ridling, top middle John Gildroy Grant, bottom left Reginald Judson, middle bottom Henry John Laurant) but not all Victoria Cross holders, (top right Thomas Cooke, bottom right Percy

Police recover €1.5-million Stradivari violin from thieves

Police and public prosecutors in Hannover have solved the mystery of a spectacular art theft last year, in which a Stradivari violin and several other works of art were stolen from a mansion in Lower Saxony.

Police recovered the violin, which has an insurance value of €1.5 million and is believed to date from 1721, along with other pieces from the stolen collection on Tuesday, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

Despite strong security at the home, the thieves broke past a high wall and a moat on October 17, 2008 to take, among other items, the valuable instrument made by Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari, widely lauded as the most significant artisan of his field.

Two suspects were arrested on Tuesday by commando police officers in Hannover, and a further two accomplices are under suspicion, a spokesman told news agency DDP. The men all come from the city, and were known by the police for other property thefts.

If accused in the gang robbery, all four men face up to ten years in prison if convicted.

Agents had long suspected the pieces might be found once the thieves sought money for the items, and were set on the trail to the accused after a man tipped them off eight weeks ago. Authorities then arranged a bogus transaction to locate the robbers, offering €500,000 for all of the stolen goods.

All of the booty from last October’s theft was then recovered from a Volkswagen “Bulli” transporter van in Hannover-Linden.

The owners of the recovered items, the Bennigsen family, said they were “overjoyed” and “eternally grateful” for the return of the objects, a police statement said.

“It is fantastic that these articles, with such great historical value, have found their way back home,” head of the house, Baron Roderic von Bennigsen, told news agency AP.

Couple busted with stolen painting

There was nothing artful about this crime.

A Brooklyn couple was busted trying to sell a painting stolen off the wall of a Manhattan museum to an undercover cop, authorities said.

Denis Ryjenko, 35, and his girlfriend, Natella Croussouloudis, 42, were arrested Sept. 3 as they tried to unload a small masterpiece, "Himalayas," by the prolific early 20th-century Russian artist Nicholas Roerich.

One of them even told the "buyer" the painting was hot and warned him not to hang it on his gallery wall

The $125,000 painting had disappeared along with a second work by Roerich on June 24.

The second piece -- titled "Talung Monastery" and worth $70,000 -- was mysteriously returned by mail to the Nicholas Roerich Museum on West 107th Street on Aug. 14.

But investigators caught wind that the couple had "Himalayas" when an informant told them the pair had been showing it off in their Midwood apartment, saying they were hoping to sell it for $40,000.

The informant told the couple he would help introduce them to a buyer, who was actually an undercover officer posing as an art collector.

On Sept. 3, Ryjenko and Croussouloudis -- carrying the painting in a blue paper shopping bag -- traveled to a Lower East Side Starbucks to meet with the detective, police said.

While Ryjenko waited outside, Croussouloudis met with the phony collector and asked for $20,000 for the painting. She even warned him that the work of art had been stolen and that he would be unable to freely display it in his gallery, police said.

The cop then asked her to come with him to his gallery where he would give her the money. As she and Ryjenko walked with him up Allen Street, they were arrested.

A law-enforcement source said the couple denied having stolen the painting.

But Ryjenko, who has a long criminal record, pleaded guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court yesterday to criminal possession of stolen property in return for four months in jail.

"I knew it was stolen," he told Judge Anthony Ferrara. "I didn't know if it was real or not."

Croussouloudis, who is a German national, according to Correction Department records, waived her appearance and was held on $20,000 bail.

The landlord of the building where the two had been living said they owed $7,500 back rent and had recently had their power and gas shut off for failure to pay their bills

Guilty Plea over VC Theft

A man has pleaded guilty to the burglary of the Waiouru Army museum in 2007.

The man, who has name suppression, appeared in the Auckland District Court today and pleaded guilty to the December 2 thefts.

He was remanded in custody until October 8.

Another man still faces charges in connection with the incident when he appears in the Wanganui District Court for a depositions hearing on October 27.

An extensive manhunt and national outrage followed the theft of medals from a display case.

The Waiouru haul was huge. Among the 96 medals stolen were nine Victoria Crosses, including Charles Upham's VC and Bar - the only double VC decoration awarded to a combat soldier. Two rare George Crosses, an Albert Medal, a Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal were also taken.

Even on a world scale, the Waiouru raid was unprecedented - comparable to the theft of major international artworks.

Going by overseas auctions in recent years, the haul was estimated to be worth $10 million, easily making it the biggest robbery in New Zealand criminal history.

Australian War Memorial Museum curator Nick Fletcher said at the time: "I don't think there's ever been a bigger theft than this before. No larger group of significant medals has been stolen like this."

The recovery of the medals was also significant.

It is believed that only one of the 15 other Victoria Crosses known to have been stolen worldwide since the mid-1800s have been recovered - and that one, stolen from the Canadian War Memorial Museum in 1973, was missing for 31 years.

British billionaire Lord Ashcroft, who owns the largest VC collection in the world - more than 140 VCs, or one in 10 of all those awarded since 1856, rates the Upham VC and Bar as the "Holy Grail."

Entry to the Waiouru museum was through a rear fire escape about 1.10am on a Sunday. The glass security cabinets were smashed, the medals grabbed and the theft completed within four minutes.

Waiouru Army Museum director Colonel Raymond Seymour said the guilty plea was "bloody marvellous news".

"It has been a long two years and this will be partial closure to that terrible event that happened in December 2007," he said.

He praised the police investigation, saying they had clearly done a good job.

Col Seymour said the medals had been back on display since October last year and their theft had the perverse effect of increasing their popularity with the public.

"Every cloud has a silver lining," he said.

"They are being proudly displayed and continue to be a real drawcard."

He said security had been improved following a review in the wake of the break-in.

Inquiry head Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann said it was extremely satisfying to get a guilty plea.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Hawaii to Hitler Update !!!

Art Piece Worth Six Figures Stolen from Waikiki's Wyland Gallery

Internationally known artist Robert Wyland is asking for the public's help in getting one of his most prized paintings back.

The painting, valued at nearly $700,000 was stolen from "Wyland Galleries at Waikiki Beach Walk" around 7:20 Sunday night.

The gallery director says it's one of the gallery's most valuable paintings.

Witness Nicole Mokiao had a weird feeling when she saw a beat up truck pass her hostess stand twice Sunday night.

Soon after, her manager, who was on a break, came running towards her.

"Basically he seen everything. He seen the guy take the painting down from the wall. He seen him put it inside the truck, he said he didn't put it gingerly in the truck he just kind of threw it and left," she said.

The painting titled "Dolphin Dawn" is a published original that Wyland painted for the millennium.

And it was huge, four feet by six feet.

The painting was hanging at the entrance of the gallery.

The guy came in he had to go over our table, and lift a four foot by six foot painting framed in the koa wood solid koa lift it up and get it in the truck. And then drive away so it was pretty bold and brazen," said Iris Katsura, the gallery's director.

Mokiao says a woman was driving the truck. "She was a local lady, heavy set really kinky ehu color hair, the guy was, local guy had a mustache, had tinge of gray in his mustache, I seen missing teeth. He was wearing a black t-shirt."

She also got a good look at the truck, which has license plate number: 6-6-8 Q-something-C. "It was a GMC truck late 80's early 90's, it was a bluish teal truck it had black patches on it I wasn't sure if the paint was pealing or if it was spray painted," Mokiao said.

"The president of our company spoke to Wyland (Monday) morning and he's very saddened by the whole thing he just wants the painting back," saud Katsura.

Wyland is offering a $2,000 cash reward, or an original brush stroke painting for information leading to the safe return of the stolen painting.

If you have any information, call Wyland Galleries in Waikiki or Honolulu police

Antique furniture stolen from UK rural home

THIEVES made off with a £4,500 haul of antique furniture after a raid on a house in Dummer.

Between Sunday, August 30 and Tuesday, September 1, burglars broke a window to enter an isolated house in the north Hampshire village before stealing the antiques.

Detectives are now trying to trace the furniture, which includes a 19th century mahogany military campaign chest of drawers, a George I walnut chest of drawers and a mahogany coffee table with a red leather top.

PC Ewan Gardner, from the Basingstoke Priority Crime Unit, said: “The pieces are highly individual items, and the thieves left behind a drawer for one of the items, making it even more memorable.

“A large vehicle would have been needed to move the furniture and I would like to hear from anyone who witnessed anything unusual over the bank holiday, or anyone who has been offered similar items for sale.”

Anyone with information can contact PC Gardner at Basingstoke police station on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

German Police confiscate stolen painting found on antiques TV show

Bavarian police said on Monday they had confiscated a valuable painting likely stolen by the Nazis after it turned up on an antiques appraisal TV show.

After calling for witnesses to reveal the owner, the authorities decided to confiscate the painting from an elderly Munich resident.

Two days after they sought help from the public to locate the 17th-century painting by Flemish artist Frans Francken the Younger, a 67-year-old relative of the painting's owner called investigators on Friday to say it was hanging in her relative’s Westend district apartment. She told police she had seen the police appeal in a regional newspaper.

“We’re not sure if we’ll be able to question the owner,” Munich police spokesperson Ludwig Waldinger told The Local. “She’s very ill in the hospital and she’s 93-years-old.”

Police secured the painting on Friday, and it will remain in Munich police custody while investigators try to piece together what happened to the 1606 painting after it was likely looted from Adolf Hitler’s Munich reception building, the Führerbau, as American troops approached near the end of World War II.

It was in this building that the Nazis had amassed some 723 paintings gathered by the Sonderauftrag Linz, an organisation formed by Hitler to collect art for his planned Führermuseum in his hometown of Linz, Austria. Some 650 of these paintings, gathered by Dresden State Art Collections, went missing when the Nazis fled.

The last physical evidence of the painting’s origin shows that it belonged to a French family and was purchased on October 14, 1943 by a Dresden art dealer, Waldinger said. It is now worth an estimated €100,000.

Initial reports said that the painting’s owner may have been Jewish, but Waldinger said police are now unsure of their background.

“There are still so many questions,” he told The Local.

Initial police investigation has revealed that the 93-year-old owner’s parents gave her the painting, entitled “The Sermon on the Mount (Paul in Lystra).” A male relative of the owner submitted the painting to broadcaster Bayrischer Rundfunk’s show Kunst und Krempel, or “Art and Junk,” for appraisal on November 15, 2008. He died in June 2009, Waldinger said.

An art expert saw the 33 by 79.5-centimetre painting on the “Antiques Roadshow” style programme and suspected it might have been stolen, but didn’t call police until six months later to explain his research.

The show asserted its journalistic right to protect its sources, forcing Munich police to go public with their search.

If they find the painting belonged to Adolf Hitler himself, the Bavarian Finance Ministry will take the next steps to find the painting a home, Waldinger said. If its rightful owner was another individual, the federal government will take on the project of restitution, he added.
Art Hostage Comments;
Wyland painting found in Chinatown after Police directed to its location.
No arrests, as yet !!!!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Graff Robbery, Divide and Rule !!


..& gangster boss he double-crossed is not best pleased

One of the robbers in the Graff diamond heist is on the run with HALF the £40million haul.

But the fugitive - known as "Tim Slim But Dim" - doesn't have just the police to worry about. In fact, they may be the least of his worries.

The double-crossing crook is also being hunted by the mastermind behind the raid, who was expecting to claim a £1.2million diamond encrusted Bulgari watch for himself.

When the robbers fled the jeweller's in London's Mayfair after Britain's biggest shop raid, they were clutching two bags, each holding jewellery worth around £20million.

Both were supposed to be handed over to the mastermind - a 52-year-old East End Mr Big, who has links to Russian warlords.

One of the bags was safely dispatched to his hideout. But "Tim" fled with the other one.

The gang's hunt for the missing loot echoes the storyline of Guy Ritchie's 2000 film Snatch when London gangsters frantically search for a stolen diamond.

Last night an underworld source said: "The gang have been betrayed by one of their own and the gang leader is furious.

"He has told his crew to find this traitor at all costs.

"They think the guy is bound to be hiding abroad and fear he is biding his time to try to move on the jewellery and make millions.

"But if he manages to do it he will have to hide away for the rest of his life."

The source added: "The gang leader has connections with Russian criminals who have been promised a share of the loot so he is frantically trying to make sure it's returned.

"But what has angered the man at the top the most is that Tim fled with the watch. He collects watches and it was supposed to be his present for setting up and planning the raid."

Dramatic CCTV footage captured the moment the two robbers - wearing facial disguises - calmly walked into Graff's and carried out the raid on August 6.

It sparked a huge police hunt and so far six men have been charged.

Police arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with the robbery on Friday. Six other men have been arrested and face charges related to the robbery.

Police believe up to a dozen men were involved in the raid in which 43 items of jewellery were stolen and shots fired into the ground.

A senior police source said: "There are people out there who were involved and we are confident of tracking them down."


Fled heist with £20m worth of gems and is now thought to be hiding abroad


Had expected to claim a £1.2m diamond Bulgari watch for his own collection

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Graff Jewel Heist, Round Them Up and Collar The Lot !!!!

Graff robbery: Main suspect and £40m haul still missing

The £40million jewel haul stolen in the Graff heist is still missing, along with one of the main suspects, a court heard yesterday.
Police investigating Britain's biggest gem robbery have been unable to recover any of the £40m haul despite arresting six suspected robbers.
Not one of the glittering jewels, worth individually as much as £5million, has been recovered amid fears that one of the raiders still at large may have spirited them abroad.
The audacious raid of Graff Diamonds last month sparked a major manhunt, with six men charged in connection with the robbery to date.
But one of the two raiders who held up the Mayfair store at gunpoint is still on the run.
Yesterday Wimbledon Magistrates Court heard that flying squad detectives have so far been unable to recover any of the loot.
In a brief hearing as Benjamine (corr) McFarlane, 21, became the sixth person to be charged in relation to the robbery, Abigail Hill, prosecuting, outlined what happened during the robbery on August 6.
She said: 'The property taken was of the retail value of £40million. It is still unrecovered.
'One male is already in custody. One male is still outstanding.'
McFarlane, a tall black youth with corn rows, stood silently in the dock listening to the charges, while members of his family sobbed in the public gallery, blowing kisses and waving at the defendant.
Six suspects including McFarlane have now been charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.
A seventh man arrested in connection with the raid, a 50-year-old man who was held last week in Ilford, east London, has been released on bail pending further inquiries.
Despite the offer of a record £1million reward, Flying Squad detectives have faced a wall of silence from the underworld about the raid.
A 24-year-old man was being questioned by police on Saturday over the £40 million Graff jewellers robbery.
Police sources told The Times newspaper they believe the arrest to be 'significant'. Gunman Two perhaps ??
On Thursday a sixth man appeared in court over the robbery.
Benjamine McFarlane, 21, of Paveley Street, St John's Wood, north-west London, appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates Court in south west London accused of conspiracy to commit robbery.
Courtney Lawrence, 30, of Ladbroke Grove, central London; Gregory Jones, 29, of Elgin Avenue, Harrow, north-west London; Jamal Mogg, 42, of Westby Road, Bournemouth; Solomun Beyene, 24, of Lilestone Street, St John's Wood; and Craig Calderwood, 26, of no fixed abode, appeared at Kingston Crown Court on Tuesday.
They are all accused of conspiracy to commit robbery. Beyene and Calderwood also face one firearms charge each.
All six men have been remanded in custody and will next appear at Kingston Crown Court on October 23.