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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, They Seek Him Here, They Seek Him There !!

Escaped prisoner could be hiding in Guildford

By Melanie Hall
August 30, 2011

A PRISONER who absconded from an open jail in South Yorkshire last month may have fled to Guildford, police searching for him have said.

On July 18, Daniel O'Loughlin, 35, failed to return to HMP Hatfield after he was given temporary release for a work placement within the community, and now officers believe he could be in the Stoughton area of the town.

O'Loughlin was behind bars for his role in an organised crime group which committed a series of high-profile and high-value burglaries at large country houses across central and western England.

In August 2008, he was imprisoned for his part in the conspiracy and in May 2010 a court ordered him to pay back £113,000, which was deemed to have been gained from his criminal activity.

The police investigation, called Operation Haul, was a multi-force project involving Thames Valley Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary, West Mercia Police, Warwickshire Police and Wiltshire Police.

West Mercia Police is one of three forces now searching for O'Loughlin.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Murphy said: "O'Loughlin has been missing for more than a month and we need to find him and return him to prison.

"He has strong links to Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire, but we have information that suggests he is visiting contacts he has in Guildford.

"While it is thought he does not pose a direct threat, we would advise that he should not be approached by members of the public.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Burglar, Wanted, Escapes Again !

Antiques worth £100,000 stolen from Tetbury dealership

Antiques worth around £100,000 were stolen from an antique dealership in Tetbury.

The burglary is thought to have happened between 2.25am and 2.50am today, when offenders forced entry to the rear of the antiques dealership in Long Street.

Police believe the thieves travelled in and out of the area in an older style estate car, possibly a Vauxhall, which was dark blue or grey. It's thought that they had parked the car in Close Gardens.

Police are urging anyone who was in the area that may have seen this vehicle or anyone acting suspiciously to contact them as soon as possible, if they have not already done so.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Johnson Crime Clan, They Haven't Gone Away You Know

On the run: Burglar from notorious crime family which stole £80m in stately home raids disappears while on day release

A thief from a notorious crime family who netted £80million in stately home raids is on the run after failing to return to prison while on day release.

Daniel O'Loughlin, 35, was part of a group of travellers know as the Johnson Gang which are responsible for carrying out Britain's biggest burglary.

He was jailed for 11 years in 2008 for his role in the heists, which took place over a 20-year period.

But yesterday it emerged the career criminal had failed to return to Hatfield prison in South Yorkshire after being given a temporary release for a work placement on July 18.

O'Loughlin played a key role in the Johnson clan's criminal activities, which saw the Cheltenham family take part in a series of audacious raids on country estates across in Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Worcestershire.

Their most famous crime was the 2006 heist on Ramsbury Manor in Wiltshire, owned by reclusive property tycoon Harry Hyams.

The gang got away with antiques and art valued at about £30 million - making it Britain's biggest burglary on a private property.

Other homes targeted included the Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust property and home of the Rothschild family near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

About 100 snuff boxes worth around £5 million were stolen.

The homes of former Formula One motor racing tycoon Paddy McNally, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Sir Philip Wroughton and Lord and Lady Sandys were also targeted.

O'Loughlin was jailed along with his uncle, Ricky Johnson, then 55, his cousins Richard 'Chad' Johnson, 34, and Albi Johnson, 27, and Michael Nicholls, 31.

The family's sentences ranged from eight to 11 years.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Murphy, from West Mercia Police, said yesterday O'Laughlin had strong links to the areas of Evesham, Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and Berkshire.

'O'Loughlin has been missing for more than a month and we need to find him and return him to prison.'

Detective inspector Steve Porter, from Gloucestershire police, added: 'While it is thought he does not pose a direct threat to the public, we would advise that he should not be approached.'

The family had lived at the Cleeve Prior travellers' site in Evesham, Worcestershire, where they plotted many of the high-value raids.

A Thomas Tompion clock, dated 1675, and worth £240,000 and a Daniel Delander barometer worth £650,000 were among a collection of silver, porcelain and china treasures which were wrapped in newspaper by the gang and stashed in dustbins in a bunker in Stratford-upon-Avon.

O'Loughlin later made legal history from his prison cell by arranging for a collection of stolen items to be returned to country estates in Swindon and Oxfordshire.

But it emerged that despite getting away with antiques worth a total of £23 million, the gang made a paltry £76,000 from their crimes.

O'Loughlin was ordered by a judge to pay £113,200 in a confiscation hearing or face a further 25 months in prison.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Linearis Institute Riddled With Fraud & Corruption

Word from L.A. is the Linearis institute is riddled with corruption and fraud and the Sherriff is on the case.

The recent theft and recovery of the so-called Rembrandt drawing The Judgement has highlighted the long held belief by some that the collection has been riddled with fake works of art and many have been sold via the silent auctions and other fund raising events organised by the Linearis Institute.

Allegations of blatent fraud and imbezzlement have been circulating the corridors of the Linearis Institute which are being looked into.

So, could the Rembrandt theft be a smokescreen to reveal the doggy dealings of the Linearis Institute, was the intention all along of stealing the Rembrandt and returning it so it could be proved to be a Studio work rather than by the Master himself Rembrandt ?

Be prepared for the victim to become the perp in the Rembrandt theft is the word reaching Art Hostage from L.A.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Wittman Heads West In Search of Shirley, Abstract

Paint of no return

Artist’s life work vanishes

A TriBeCa building superintendent who was hired to protect an acclaimed artist’s career work in paintings and drawings turned out to be a super thief who swiped them all, authorities said.

“I was devastated when I found out that her paintings were gone — it was like she died all over again,” said Roxane West, the niece of late abstract painter and sculptor Shirley West.

Roxane West told The Post that her nightmare saga began after her beloved, talented aunt died June 8, 2010.

The niece said she asked Mihaly Kovacsevics, the 61-year-old handyman in the dead woman’s building at 427 Washington St., to keep an eye on Shirley West’s sizeable art collection — 497 paintings and thousands of drawings produced over the span of 60 years — in West’s first floor studio.

“He told me, ‘No one can get to them. They are locked up. They are safe and sound,’ ” Roxane recalled.

“I literally trusted him with her life.”

But when Roxane visited her late aunt’s studio in October, the paintings were gone. She asked Kovacsevics where they were, and the ex-con told her that he had moved them to a locked storage room in the basement, she said.

She later called Kovacsevics to unlock the storage room because a professor from NYU wanted to look at the works, hoping to write a book about her aunt — a “very important” female artist, said Chelsea curator Elga Wimmer.

But Kovacsevics didn’t return Roxane’s calls. That’s because he had already fled the country, law enforcement sources said. The Hungarian national, who did seven years for grand larceny in Florida in the 1990s, had taken a plane to Germany a week before, sources said.

Roxane discovered her aunt’s work had vanished. “It’s her life’s body of work. It can’t be replaced,” the teary-eyed niece said.

It turns out that Kovacsevics didn’t just have a taste for fine art. Weeks before Roxane discovered her aunt’s work went missing, Kovacsevics was hired by a wellheeled Lower East Side woman to resell $126,400 of her jewelry and Rolex watches in exchange for a commission, officials said. Instead, the crook kept the pricey baubles all to himself, refusing to return the woman’s frantic phone calls, according to the criminal complaint.

Kovacsevics, who returned to the country earlier this month, was busted on Friday at JFK as he tried to board a plane for Germany, authorities said.

He has been charged with grand larceny for both robberies. He is being held on $500,000 bail.

There is a reward for up to $25,000 for information leading to the recovery of the paintings. Tipsters can contact Robert Wittman Inc. at 610-361-8929.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, The Enemy Within !!

German police recover stolen masterpieces

BERLIN (AFP) - German police said Monday they had recovered dozens of stolen artworks by European masters valued at around 1.6 million euros ($2.3 million) with the help of the married couple behind the scam.

Authorities in Waldshut, southwestern Germany said the pair had confessed to taking 93 paintings and sketches by Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann and others from an 81-year-old collector friend over the course of several months.

"About a year ago, the collector realised that two valuable paintings, which had just been returned from an exhibition in (nearby) Karlsruhe, were missing," police said in a statement.

A subsequent examination of his collection, which he kept in his home on the outskirts of the Black Forest, showed that dozens had disappeared.

"The police were faced with a mystery as to how the pictures could have vanished, as there was no trace of a break-in at the home," the statement said.

They determined that the culprits were probably known to the victim and zeroed in on a couple in the western city of Cologne.

"An investigation revealed suspicious bank account activity by the Ukrainian-born wife, who had been a friend of the collector's for a few years and occasionally spent the night at his home," she said.

It also revealed the woman, 45, had repeatedly lied to the collector.

The growing suspicion prompted a search of her apartment in Cologne. While none of the artworks were found there, police did encounter her purportedly estranged husband, a 63-year-old art dealer.

The couple had sold the paintings to mostly unwitting wealthy patrons throughout Germany.

The two were detained in March and offered a full confession, leading to the recovery in the meantime of 65 of the 93 works, valued at around 1.6 million euros. The victim has since sold his collection.

A police spokesman told AFP that Waldhut's small force had never seen a theft of this magnitude and waited to reveal it to the press until the investigation was wrapped up and passed on to state prosecutors.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Chinese Head, $1.6 Million, Love You Long Time

Two Chinese Sculptures Stolen From Westport; Worth $800,000 Each, Police Say,0,3066278.story

Two ancient Chinese head sculptures worth about $800,000 each were stolen from a private collection recently, and police are seeking information about who could have stolen them.

The Louhan sculptures are "extremely unique and rare" and are of the "few examples known to exist in the world," police said in a news release.

The pieces are 900 to 1,000 years, dating back to China's Tang Dynasty, and are carved from sandstone. Each weighs between 60 and 80 pounds and is about 15 inches tall, 15 inches deep and 10 inches wide.

The owner had been storing the sculptues at an undisclosed location in Westport, police said. The theft was reported around noon on Monday, but may have been stolen any time during the past couple of weeks, police said.

The theft is being investigated by the Westport Police Detective Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Church Recovery For Rembrandt's Judgement

Stolen Rembrandt recovered at church

An L.A. County Sheriff's official confirmed Tuesday that deputies recovered a stolen Rembrandt from the pastor's office of an Episcopal church in Encino.

The Rembrandt sketch stolen Saturday night from the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey was recovered Monday night from Saint Nicholas Episcopal Church in the 17100 block of Ventura Boulevard, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Investigators were still trying to determine how it found its way into the office of Father Mike Cooper and to verify whether it is an authentic Rembrandt. Cooper referred questions to Whitmore.

The sketch titled "The Judgment" was recovered after authorities received a tip Monday evening that someone had seen the artwork on church property.

Deputies went to the property and recovered the drawing, which was positively identified by its owners, the Linearis Institute, Whitmore said.

No one has been arrested in connection with the theft, he said.

"We have the Rembrandt at the station evidence lockup...we are now seeking to authenticate it is a Rembrandt with other sources," he said.

Whitmore said detectives still plan to release a sketch and images of a person involved in the "well-thought-out, well-executed theft."

The 11-inch-by-6-inch quill pen and ink work dating to about 1655 was part of an exhibition staged by the Linearis Institute. Officials at the institute have not returned telephone calls.

It was stolen Saturday between 9:20 p.m. and 9:35 p.m. when a curator told investigators he was distracted by a guest.

"When the curator turned back to the Rembrandt, it was gone," Whitmore said.

Art experts said works by Rembrandt are some of the most popular targets for art thieves, second only to those by Picasso, because of the artist’s name recognition and the value of the pieces.

Anthony Amore, chief investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and co-author of a book called "Stealing Rembrandts," said there have been 81 documented thefts of the artist’s work in the past 100 years.

One of those took place at the Gardner museum, where in 1990 a pair of thieves posing as police officers gained entry to the museum and stole 13 works of art, including three Rembrandts. The crime remains unsolved.

In the majority of cases, stolen Rembrandts have been recovered, either when thieves were caught or returned the items, sometimes in an attempt to claim reward money after they were unable to sell them.

Thieves find famous artworks extremely difficult to sell because of their high profiles and the publicity generated by such thefts, he said.

"I’d be shocked if the person who stole this piece had any idea how to fence it," Amore said.

There are about 700 surviving drawings that experts agree to be Rembrandt’s work, said Amore’s co-author, Tom Mashberg.

Stolen Art Watch, Rembrandt's Judgement Recovered

Authorities Recover Stolen Rembrandt Worth $250G

It wasn't some bold theft carried out by burglars breaking into a heavily-fortified museum with high-tech alarms to swipe a masterpiece. It was a low-tech caper involving a distraction, an accomplice or two and a small sketch -- an 11- by 6-inch drawing.

What was remarkable was the signature on the artwork: Rembrandt.

Authorities said Tuesday they had recovered the Dutch master's 17th century sketch, which was snatched over the weekend from a private art display at a luxury California hotel while a curator was momentarily distracted by someone who seemed interested in buying another piece.

"When the curator turned back to the Rembrandt, it was gone," Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said. It was not clear whether the person talking to the curator was connected to the theft, though Whitmore said a team of at least two people was involved.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not release further details on the recovery of the drawing, and Associated Press calls for comment were not immediately returned.

The Rembrandt drawing, swiped Saturday night, was valued at $250,000 and was being exhibited as part of a private display in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the upmarket seaside community of Marina del Rey.

The sketch was being displayed on an easel or wooden stand and was apparently not fastened down in any way, Whitmore said.

He described the theft as well-executed, "but not executed well enough to get away with," adding that investigators had several strong leads and that detectives were looking at video surveillance from the hotel.

The sketch, called "The Judgment," was completed around 1655 and is signed on the back by Rembrandt von Rijn. He is widely regarded as one of the finest painters in European art history and his worldwide name recognition has made his work a common target for thieves.

"Rembrandt is a name that criminals know or should know," said Chris Marinello, executive director of the London-based Art Loss Register, an international database of stolen artworks. "When they come across one, they see dollar signs."

Marinello said the theft was likely a crime of opportunity and not an operation carried at the command of a mysterious underworld mastermind with a private art collection, as is often depicted in movies.

"Hollywood would love us to believe there are paintings being ordered stolen," he said. "We have yet to find that."

Artworks tend to surface either very quickly after they are stolen or else disappear into the underworld where they are traded between criminals at a fraction of their value for drugs and other illicit materials, Marinello said.

Ritz-Carlton spokeswoman Vivian Deuschl said she could not comment because the theft was a police matter.

The drawing was part of an exhibit at the hotel sponsored by the Linearis Institute based in the San Francisco Bay area community of Hercules. Messages left Monday weren't returned.

The stolen sketch was drawn with a quill pen and depicts what appears to be a court scene with a man prostrating himself before a judge.

Marinello said the artist thieves most commonly target is Picasso because of the volume of the Spanish painter's work and his name recognition.

In July, a thief walked into a San Francisco gallery and snatched a Picasso sketch valued at more than $200,000. The arrest of the suspect ultimately led police to a trove of other stolen artworks in a New Jersey apartment.

In 1990, two criminals posing as police officers robbed the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum during the St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston. Marinello said the works, which included Rembrandt's only seascape, had a combined worth of as much as $500,000. Those paintings are still missing.

Anthony Amore, chief investigator at the museum and co-author of the book "Stealing Rembrandts," told the Los Angeles Times there have been 81 documented thefts of the artist's work in the past 100 years.

Marina del Rey is a sprawling community and small-boat harbor on Santa Monica Bay, less than 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Rembrandt Victim In U.S. Snatch Squad Crimewave 2011

Rembrandt painting stolen from Marina del Rey art exhibit, officials say

A Rembrandt work valued at more than $250,000 was stolen Saturday evening from a private art exhibit at the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey when a curator was distracted by an apparent diversion, Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials said.

The painting vanished from the exclusive hotel between 10:20 and 10:35 p.m., said Steve Whitmore, a sheriff's spokesman.

"The hotel has top quality security. We believe this was a well-thought out and well-planned theft," Whitmore said.

Located at 4375 Admiralty Way in Marina del Rey, the Ritz-Carlton is known for its art exhibits.

The work by Rembrandt van Rijn, the renowned Dutch 17th Century painter and etcher, is said to be titled "The Judgment."

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators believe that a man working with accomplices is responsible for the theft of a Rembrandt drawing from an exhibit at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey.

After reviewing hotel surveillance footage related to the theft of a Rembrandt late Saturday from a private art exhibit, detectives have determined that at least one man was involved, and he was probably working with other suspects in the well-orchestrated heist, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

The theft occurred when a curator was distracted by another person, officials said. The pen-and-ink drawing, valued at $250,000 or more, disappeared from the hotel between 10:20 and 10:35 p.m. "Our detectives are reviewing the hotel security video for information identifying those involved," Whitmore said.

Whitmore said the small piece, approximately 11-by-6 inches, is by Rembrandt van Rijn, the 17th-century Dutch master, and is titled "The Judgment." It was being exhibited in the hotel lobby and belongs to the Linearis Institute in Northern California.

"The hotel has top-quality security. We believe this was a well-thought-out and well-planned theft," Whitmore said. Sheriff's investigators plan to release an artist's sketch of a suspect in the theft.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Kaws "Calvin Klein" Theft Ecko's Lugo

In the elevator and on the lift: The Burglar who walked out of New York gallery with $100,000 painting

  • The thief rolled up the artwork, put it into a tube and walked out of the building

Standing calmly in a gallery lift this man looks like any other art lover, only the souvenir he has under his arm is a stolen $100,000 painting.

The brazen thief removed artwork 'Untitled (Calvin Klein)' from a wall on the second floor of the Marc Ecko art gallery, New York at 6pm last night.

Surveillance cameras captured the man as he pilfered the piece by Brooklyn-based graphic design and graffiti artist KAWS which features acrylic over an ad poster for Calvin Klein jeans

He then simply rolled up the artwork, put it into a tube and walked out of the building

A police spokesman said: 'The thief is around 5ft 11in and was wearing a dark green hoodie, blue jeans, a tan baseball hat, sunglasses and running shoes.'

The burglar was also carrying a dark backpack.

Artist KAWS, real name Brian Donnelly, briefly worked for Disney as a freelance animator before embarking on a career as a graffiti artist.

Adding imagery to billboards, bus shelters and phone booth advertisements, he soon gained popularity and notoriety.

In the late nineties he began to produce limited edition vinyl toys and also created pieces using familiar images such as The Kimpsons, based on American cartoon, The Simpsons.

He has reworked other familiar icons such as Mickey Mouse, the Michelin Man, the Smurfs, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Art thieves looking to make big sums of money from famous paintings have had to come up with imaginative methods to avoid being caught.

In 1911, one thief hid in a closet and waited until the Louvre was closed before grabbing the Mona Lisa and hiding it in his smock.

Dressing up as police officers enabled two men in Boston to remove paintings worth $300million without being caught.

Fast-acting thieves in Amsterdam broke into the Van Gogh Mueseum and made off with $30million worth of painting.

It was reported that they worked so quickly, the had already left by the time police arrived.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Landau Languishes As Savedoff Squeals

Prosecutor Urges Judge Not to Release Historian

BALTIMORE (AP).- A presidential historian has been scheming to steal valuable documents from archives throughout the Northeast for years — if not decades — and his release from federal custody could put more pieces of American history at risk if he tries to cover his tracks, a prosecutor argued Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey approved the release of Barry Landau, 63, to his Manhattan apartment with GPS monitoring, but put the release on hold until another judge hears an appeal from prosecutors Friday afternoon.

Landau and his assistant, 24-year-old Jason Savedoff, are charged with stealing valuable historical documents from the Maryland Historical Society and conspiring to steal documents from other archives. The historian would use different routines to distract curators and had sports jackets and overcoats altered to allow him to stash documents inside large pockets, Assistant U.S. Attorney James G. Warwick said.

The two New York men were arrested in the historical society's library in Baltimore last month after arousing employees' suspicions, according to court documents.

Landau pleaded not guilty on Thursday. Savedoff has yet to enter a plea.

Warwick told the judge that the pair had some 80 documents. About 60 were from the Maryland Historical Society, including papers signed by President Abraham Lincoln worth $300,000 and presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs worth $500,000. The other documents were from the Connecticut Historical Society, Vassar College and the National Archives, Warwick said.

Investigators have twice searched the apartment Landau shared with Savedoff but are concerned that if Landau is released he could destroy documents elsewhere, Warwick said. Landau bragged that he had a storage space in the Washington, D.C., area where he had 30 times the number of paintings, documents and artifacts that he kept in his apartment — which Warwick described as "wall-to-wall" memorabilia.

"If we don't get to them first, they may be lost forever," Warwick said.

Landau's attorney, Andrew C. White, said that his client doesn't have any other repositories for documents and memorabilia, and if he said as much, it was only to boost his image.

A search of Landau's apartment last month turned up thousands of documents, Warwick said. National Archives workers have been cataloging the documents, and have determined so far that 200 belong to institutions, including Swarthmore College, the Smithsonian Institution, Yale University, Columbia University, the New York Public Library, Vassar College, Cambridge University, University of Vermont and the Library of Congress.

"These are priceless relics of history," Warwick said. "They're no longer available to the public. They've been converted for Mr. Landau's personal financial gain."

Warwick offered a peek into a "complex bundle of lies and deceit" he said the government has been uncovering. Investigators were told that Landau would offer to reframe paintings he admired in people's homes, and then return high-quality reproductions he commissioned and keep the originals, Warwick said.

He also said Savedoff would use identification stolen from wallets at a New York gym to distance himself from Landau when they visited archives.

During a July 12 search of the apartment, investigators could only take documents they believed were stolen, but they photographed the items they left. They were later told Landau shredded historical documents that he had more than one copy of to enhance the value of the remaining documents, Warwick said.

When investigators returned Tuesday, Warwick said the shredder had been moved and cleaned out.

Landau's attorneys informed prosecutors that an attorney would remove some paintings to sell to pay for Landau's defense, but Warwick said other items, including photos of famed pilot Charles Lindbergh, were missing when investigators returned on Tuesday. There was also fresh paint on one wall, perhaps meant to disguise the removal of other items, he said.

Warwick said the historian, even while in jail, tried to get another person to take the blame for the thefts, offering to pay for a psychiatric defense. Landau made 91 phone calls while in state custody, and while Warwick said no evidence of obstruction was found during those calls, Landau also had visitors, the prosecutor said.

The men were indicted by a federal grand jury last week, accused of stealing and selling historical documents that included a Benjamin Franklin letter and speeches by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They also face state theft charges.

The federal indictment charges the pair with stealing a Franklin letter from the New-York Historical Society in March; the letter was written to John Paul Jones in April 1780. Landau and Savedoff are also charged with stealing a set of signed inaugural addresses from the FDR presidential library in December and later selling some of them for $35,000. Some of those documents are still missing, Warwick said.

Savedoff was released last week on $250,000 cash bail and will stay at a Baltimore area apartment.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Art Related Crime, The Reality !!

Thieves jailed for 11 years after preying on an 84-year-old man

THIEVES who preyed on an 84-year-old man, stealing cash he had saved for his twin brother's funeral, have been jailed for a total of 11 years.

Cyril Langstone woke up on the day he was to go to the service for his beloved brother Victor to find the raiders had taken £1,600 he had set aside to pay for the ceremony.

The court heard he had still not found the money to pay the funeral directors after the burglary at the home he shared with his twin.

Mr Langstone was left fearful he could be targeted again and said he thought about suicide when it first happened.

Wearing hoodies, baseball caps and gloves to conceal their identities, the three perpetrators stole the cash and valuable antiques.

But they did not bank on being caught on CCTV by a hidden camera police had installed at Mr Langstone's Charlton Kings home following a previous burglary.

They were quickly identified and arrested.

Yesterday, Justin Leach, 34, of Devonshire Street, Cheltenham, who was on his 50th conviction, received four years in prison.

Ben McConnon, 18, of Colne Avenue, and 20-year-old Thomas Warburton, of Trinity Lane, were both given three-and-a-half years.

All three admitted burgling the home on June 21.

Prosecutor Julian Kesner told Gloucester Crown Court Mr Langstone had made a victim impact statement. It said: "Victor and I had lived together all our lives. We were very close. We both served together in the Second World War and in the 1970s started dealing in antiques in Cheltenham and opened a shop there.

"Victor died on June 5, 2011. It was a devastating blow. It is almost impossible to describe how I felt. Still, now, I expect to see him every day.

"I had put aside £1,600 in cash to pay for his funeral. All the cash was taken during the burglary.

"I, therefore, attended the funeral with the added distress of not being able to pay the funeral director. I still owe this money today. I am not sure how I will be able to pay this sum.

"Since the burglary I have felt less safe at home. When I hear a noise at night I feel frightened and panicky. I hope this will improve with time."

Mr Kesner told the court Mr Langstone had been dreading the funeral so much he had taken sleeping pills.

He was asleep with his bedroom door open when the trio broke in through a window.

The trio would have been able to see him in his bed as they prowled around the small bungalow.

The court heard among the property stolen, was a bronze statue of the Minotaur worth £2,500, a 1902 art nouveau bowl worth £1,300, jewellery and a gold bracket clock as well as albums of stamps and coins and eight picture frames.

Warburton was the first to be arrested and he took police to a hedge in Willow Road, in Charlton Kings, where some of the loot had been hidden. A gold and diamond ring, a silver neck chain and a vase were recovered there.

The judge was told alongside Leach's string of convictions, McConnon had two previous house burglaries on his criminal record, Warburton had 13 previous convictions including one for house burglary.

Leach had committed five previous house raids.

Joe Maloney, for McConnon, said: "It was a most dreadful offence. For Mr Langstone to have suffered the loss he did and then for this to happen is absolutely appalling."

He said McConnon expressed genuine remorse.

For Warburton, Mr Maloney said he, too, was sorry for what they had done. For Leach, Kannan Siva said he had written a three page letter of apology.

Sentencing him, Recorder Michael Meek QC said: "His letter is an expression of remorse in which he makes clear he spent the money on drugs."

He added: "For Mr Langstone to wake up and find that his house had been broken into on that day of all days was devastating. He is now fearful of being targeted again."

After the hearing, Detective Constable Peter Rowsell, who was the officer in charge of the case, said: "These men preyed on the home of an elderly man while he was asleep in bed. They showed complete disregard for any impact their actions would have. I would like to thank the victim for all his assistance throughout the investigation. I hope this sentence sends a clear message that those involved in this type of crime could well face a long spell behind bars."

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Jean-Paul Riopelle Stares "La Defaite" In The Face

Riopelle statues stolen, might be sold for metal

ESTEREL, QC — Two large bronze statues by acclaimed artist Jean-Paul Riopelle were stolen Monday night in Esterel in the Laurentians.

The statues, named "The Defeat," are valued at around $1-million according to the provincial police (SQ).

A white van – likely the vehicle used in the theft – was recovered later but no suspects or artwork was found on board.

The SQ says that sometime Monday someone reported that the statues were lying on the ground rather than standing on their pedestals across from Riopelle's former work space, where he also once lived. (Riopelle, one of Quebec's most famous artists, died in 2002 at the age of 78.)

A security guard noticed the white van and three men standing near the two statues. He alerted police but the statues had been stolen before they arrived. The statues measure 1,000 lb (453 kg) and five feet (1.5 m) and were created in 1963.

The van was discovered a few miles away in Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson

Sergeant éloise Cossette confirmed that police have very few clues about the suspects. One was more visible than the others and appeared to be in his early 20s and had a shaved head, wearing a blue shirt and multicoloured shorts.

One of the other men apparently fled on foot.

The statues were dragged on the ground before being stolen, as indicated by marks on the pavement.

The thieves might have stolen the works to sell them for the metal, even though their art value is considerably higher. Cossette says that in a similar recent theft of a bronze statue, thieves could have pulled in less than $1,000 for the metal, in that case, however, the work was recovered in time.

The SQ asks anybody with a tip concerning the artwork to call 1-800-659-4264.

Stolen Riopelle statues worth $1M found broken

Quebec police say they have recovered a pair of massive bronze statues by Jean-Paul Riopelle that are worth about $1 million.

They were stolen on Monday in front of the workshop of the late artist, in Esterel, about 100 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

Provincial police told CBC News that they found the statues broken in four pieces, in a wooded area Tuesday.

On Monday, passersby noticed the statues – named La Défaite – had been knocked down and were on their sides instead of their pedestals.

Later, a municipal security guard who patrols the village of 250 noticed three men milling about the statues and called police.

Police said by the time they were alerted and arrived at the scene, the sculptures, which stand five feet tall and weigh 1,000 pounds, had gone

Monday, August 01, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Lowry Recovery Shields Drug Boss !!

Fazakerley head of £500,000 drug operation put behind bars

THE “head” of an organised gang who shipped up to £500,000 of drugs around the country was put behind bars.

John Shields, 37, was the mastermind of the plot which saw heroin and cocaine being delivered to the North-East and Norfolk.

The operation was run from his garage in Norris Green, where a hydraulic press was used to compress the drugs before they were packaged and delivered around the UK.

Judge Brian Lewis jailed six of Shields’ gang last Friday – including pensioner and “facilitator” Brian Barrett, 72, who had previously lectured kids on the perils of getting into drugs.

He sent Shields to join them behind bars for the next six years and eight months. Jailing him, Judge Lewis said: “You are a parent. You have two children, Thanks for the Lowry recovery, so six instead of sixteen"

“Remember this John Shields, a few years down the line, if it is your child who is drawn off the straight and narrow by some sleazy, greedy drug dealer you will feel, no doubt, aggrieved. But you will have to remember you have played your part in delivering this poison into the hands of other people’s children.” "Having said that, the recovery of Lowry's worth £2 million does allow you a softer pillow to lay your head upon and a quicker route to an Open Jail"

Judge Lewis added that he needed to dish out a sentence that would deter others and “reassure the public, who demand that drug dealers are punished and taken off their streets.”

Shields, of Twigden Close, Fazakerley, admitted conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis. Shields and his gang were eventually snared after months of secret surveillance as part of Operation Harahan.

Simon Christie, prosecuting, told the court: “John Shields was the head of an organised gang that was involved in the distribution of controlled drugs across the country from a base in Liverpool.”

Shields was watched by officers repeatedly visiting the homes of his co-conspirators and when those houses were searched wholesale loads of drugs were uncovered.

Shields and Barrett, of Albany Road, Walton, were also spotted working the press at his garage on Charnock Drive. When it was seized and examined a few days later it tested positive for cocaine and heroin.

But Michael Bagley, defending, said that while the prosecution claimed Shields was the “head” of the gang, he said his client was only “associated with those involved in drugs”. He said it was clear Shields was involved in the dilution of some drugs that came to his business premises, but said beyond that it was unclear he was the head.

The barrister added that Shields was an intelligent businessman and dad who ran a properly functioning garage, but was “sucked into the drugs world” by others rather than because of his own initiative.

He added: “He is somebody that overall one would not expect to find himself in this position.”

Mr Bagley said that his behaviour was “very much out of character” and the court would not see him again.