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Thursday, October 03, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Wallace Art Collection Raid Foiled, Global Art Crime Reviewed


Wallace Collection survives an attempted art robbery Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals Targeted, They Will Be Back !!

Stealing candy from a sweet shop is bad enough but who would dare to disturb the tranquillity of Marylebone’s Wallace Collection with an attempted art theft? The collection’s world-famous stash has been open to the public, free of charge, for more than a century ever since the artworks were bequeathed to the nation by the widow of Sir Richard Wallace, the illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess of Hertford.
But last week roguish suspects unknown seem to have strolled in and tried to walk off with one of the museum’s paintings. “We suspect there was an attempt to remove a painting last week,” confirms a museum spokesman. “There was no damage to either the painting or its frame. We have an efficient security regime in place, which prevented anything further from occurring.”
The collection’s range of paintings include 17th-century classics such as Frans Hals’ The Laughing Cavalier and Nicolas Poussin’s A Dance to the Music of Time, as well as two Titians, three Rubens and four Van Dycks. The spokesman said the would-be thieves had not been trying to light-finger “one of our major works but for security reasons we are not saying which one”. Laughing Cavalier

Brighton Antiques thieves targeted Washington auction house





JPCT 130612 Toovey's Auctioneers, Washington. Photo by Derek Martin















Toovey's Auctioneers, Washington, Sussex England
Toovey’s Auctions in Washington was one of the sites raided by thieves responsible for a string of burglaries across the south.
Police say Darryl Aldridge, 48, of New Barn Road, Shoreham, orchestrated a number of burglaries at various auction houses and private homes, targeting the auction houses with upcoming sales. He researched and selected high value items which he wanted to steal using auction room websites. He would then send out his criminal associates armed with the information to commit the burglaries at the auction houses in Sussex, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Kent.
In addition, whilst on police bail for the eight auction house burglaries, Aldridge himself committed three high value burglaries in private homes in Lancing and Brighton.
Following a six week trial earlier in the year Aldridge was found guilty of three house burglaries, eight auction house burglaries, and perverting the course of justice.
He was sentenced to seven years for the auction house burglaries, three years consecutive for the three dwelling burglaries and eight months consecutive for perverting the course of justice - a total of ten years and nine months.
Anthony Townsend, 50, of Upper Lewes Road, Brighton, was found guilty of the burglary organised by Aldridge at Stroud Auctions, Gloucestershire in October 2011. He received a sentence of 18 months.
Townsend had also committed a house burglary in Brighton on 26 December, 2012, while he was on court bail for the Stroud offence. He pleaded guilty to this and received a three year consecutive sentence, leading to a total sentence of four-and-a-half years.
Kelly Lambert, 40, of Lavender Hill, Shoreham, pleaded guilty to theft at Toovey’s Auctions, Washington, West Sussex, which was orchestrated by Aldridge. She was sentenced to community service.
Anthony Fortune, 55, of Park Road, Worthing, had been charged with perverting the course of justice in relation to creating fictitious invoices for Aldridge, specifically in relation to a valuable antique Klotz violin which was stolen during the burglary at Stroud Auctions, Gloucestershire, in October 2011. This violin was found at Aldridge’s home address on October 13, less than 36 hours after the burglary.
Aldridge had initially claimed that Fortune had found this violin in a skip outside a shop in Worthing and had sold it to him thus creating an invoice.
During Aldridge’s trial in February, Aldridge had admitted the violin was from Stroud Auctions and that invoices created by Fortune for the violin and other unrelated items, were in fact fictitious. As Aldridge was convicted for perverting the course of justice for this offence, Fortune’s trial was separated and delayed to 2 September in order for a fair trial to be conducted.
Anthony Fortune appeared at Hove Crown Court on Monday September 2, where he admitted to making a false instrument by means of fraud. He admitted that he had created the invoices for Aldridge and specifically for the violin and admitted that he had not in fact found the violin or sold it to Aldridge as he had originally claimed.
He said that he suspected that it had been stolen by Aldridge and that he had created the invoices to help Aldridge move the property on. Fortune was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
A statement from the investigating officers at the Serious Organised Crime Unit and the Force Intelligence Branch are delighted at successfully taking these organised and prolific high value burglars off the streets, who were travelling throughout the South East to commit their crimes, causing much emotional and economic misery to their victims.
Aldridge is a career criminal who manipulated others to commit crime on his behalf and his imprisonment has without doubt prevented many other members of the public becoming victims of such crimes.
Detective Chief Inspector Ali Eaton said: “This was an outstanding investigation by members of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit and their professionalism and hard work was recognised with the award of a court commendation.
“With these individuals now behind bars we have significantly disrupted the groups activities and dismantled the crime group.
“We will continue to actively pursue those involved in serious and organised crime and ensure they are brought to justice.”

Danny Boyle turning Pink Panthers jewel thief documentary into a heist film
Director Danny Boyle is set to direct a film about the notorious Pink Panther jewel thieves, Variety reports. The feature film would be adapted from Smash & Grab, a recently released documentary about the gang that's said to have stolen 330 million euros (around $450 million) in jewelry since 1999. Boyle, Variety's sources say, was interested in creating a fictional take on the documentary, and his longtime producer Christian Colson is said to also be attached. Boyle's last film was Trance, also a heist movie.
According to Interpol, the Pink Panthers have committed over 300 robberies across 35 countries, pulling off heists with stunning speed and meticulous planning — one theft in Dubai was completed within a minute. Smash & Grab documents their story with a combination of security camera footage and interviews with members of the gang itself, whose possibly hundreds of members are based loosely in the Balkans. While members have been arrested and jailed, some have managed to escape, with just as much audacity.

 

France refuses to extradite 'Pink Panther' gang member

France on Wednesday rejected a Swiss extradition request for a suspected member of the infamous Pink Panther gang of international jewel thieves who was arrested earlier this month.
Zoran Tomovic, born in Montenegro but with French and Macedonian citizenships, had been on the run since escaping from a Swiss prison in May, where he was serving time for armed robbery.
The 47-year-old, a former member of the French Foreign Legion elite force, was detained on August 19 at his home in the southern town of Bedarrides.
A court in Nimes, not far from the town, on Wednesday ruled against sending him to Switzerland as France does not extradite its own citizens.
Tomovic is suspected of having stolen jewels in Switzerland and other countries including Germany, Austria, Monaco, Britain, Japan, France and Dubai.
The court will examine on September 25 another extradition demand by Macedonia, where he was tried and convicted in absentia in 1998 for murder, as well as his request to be released.
The Pink Panthers emerged from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia to become the most successful jewel thieves in the world.
According to Interpol, they have since 1999 snatched jewels with a value in excess of 330 million euros ($440 million) in heists that are often executed with breathtaking speed and precision.
They gained their nickname with a raid on a London branch of Graff Diamonds in 2003, in which two of them posed as wealthy would-be customers, persuading staff to open doors for them before helping themselves to diamonds worth millions.
Although one of the robbers was overpowered at the scene and another later arrested, only a fraction of the diamonds were recovered, one of them hidden in a pot of face cream.
That was reminiscent of a scene from the 1975 film "The Return of the Pink Panther" and resulted in a nickname that the gang members themselves adopted, wearing pink shirts for a subsequent raid in Zurich.

Suspected Pink Panther gets nine-year jail term

A 39-year-old man from Montenegro, believed to belong to the notorious Pink Panthers, has been sentenced by a Geneva court to nine years in jail for jewellery thefts in Geneva and Lucerne, as well as attempted robberies in Zurich.
The prosecutor had demanded a ten-year prison term for the accused, who was found guilty on Thursday on the charges of robbery, attempted robbery and theft as part of a criminal gang.

The man was arrested a few days after a heist in a Lucerne jewellery store in March 2012, when 78 watches worth CHF1.3 million ($1.4 million)) were stolen. The attack lasted less than 90 seconds, with employees being threatened with a blank pistol.

The thieves were caught in a flat 60 kilometres from Lucerne, but only one watch was recovered.

The Geneva robbery took place in 2009. Along with three accomplices – two who remain unidentified – he attacked a shop on the affluent Rue du Rhône, stealing jewellery worth CHF2.6 million. The stolen goods were never recovered.

The accused was also implicated in two attempted robberies against jewellers on Zurich’s ritzy Bahnhofstrasse in 2003 and 2008.

The judge considered the man’s implication as part of a criminal gang and the considerable damage inflicted on the two boutiques as aggravating circumstances. He was also sentenced the accused to pay the Geneva jeweller CHF10,000 compensation and CHF400,000 in damages.

High security

The trial was held under high security, with armed police surrounding and inside the court building, as well as surveillance helicopters flying over regularly. There were concerns after a number of suspected Pink Panthers made a spectacular escape from Swiss prisons.

The man’s lawyer said his client would appeal, stating that he was not given a fair trial because the court had been influenced by the security measures.

The ‘Pink Panther’ gang, named after the 1964 movie of the same name starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, was formed after the conflict in former Yugoslavia. The gang is believed to contain some 220 members who have carried out heists in jewellery stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

Interpol estimates that they have snatched valuables worth nearly $500 million (CHF455 million) since 1999.

Suspected armed robber shot dead in street 'by owner of jewellery store he had just raided at gunpoint'

  • Man killed as he rode away from jewellery shop in Nice on scooter
  • Shop owner allegedly fired several times at two men on scooter, killing one
An armed robber was shot dead today as he tried to rob a jewellers on the French Riviera.
In a raid which had all the hallmarks of one by the notorious Pink Panther gang, two men appeared on a scooter as ‘La Turquoise’, in the city of Nice, opened at 9am.
They rushed inside the store, which specialises in gold pieces and upmarket watches, and forced the owner to open a safe at gunpoint.
The busy street in Nice was cordoned off today after an armed robber was shot dead after a raid on a jewellers
The busy street in Nice was cordoned off today after an armed robber was shot dead after a raid on a jewellers

The body of the man, said to be in his twenties, lies in the road covered by a sheet (left), while a detective bags a handgun (right).
The body of the man, said to be in his twenties, lies in the road covered by a sheet (left), while a detective bags a handgun (right)
The body of the man, said to be in his twenties, lies in the road covered by a sheet (left), while a detective bags a handgun (right). The jewellery shop owner is accused of shooting the man

After sweeping items into a bag, the men ran out and then made off on the scooter, but the owner of the shop gave chase.
‘There were around three shots,’ said an eye witness. ‘A young man wearing a helmet was hit by bullets and fell to the ground, while the other man sped off.

‘Stolen items were lying on the ground, next to the man who had been hit. He died very soon afterwards,’ said the source.
Police arrived within minutes of the shooting, and the jeweller – who has not been named – was arrested and taken into custody.
Other shop owners said the jeweller who appeared to fire the bullets with a handgun is around 60 years old and of previous good character.
They said his shop had been targeted by robbers as recently as last October, when stock worth around 60,000 pounds was taken, and he took security very seriously.
However, it was not clear what weapon was used in today’s shooting, with at least one witness suggesting that the robbers may have dropped a pistol.  

Officers work outside the jewellers La Turquoise which was reportedly robbed shortly before the shooting
Officers work outside the jewellers La Turquoise which was reportedly robbed shortly before the shooting

A local police spokesman confirmed that the robber, who was aged ‘around 20’, died in the incident, close to Nice railway station. It is the latest in a long series of high profile armed robberies which have plagued France in recent months.
On Monday, armed robbers escaped with up to two million pounds worth of jewellery after driving a jeep through the window of an upmarket Paris boutique.
The ram-raid happened close to the prestigious Place Vendome – one of the most fashionable squares in the French capital.
In July, a single robber brandishing a pistol stole up to 100 million pounds worth of jewels from the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, a few miles along the coast from Nice.
Forensic experts and police work at the scene where an armed robber was shot dead
Forensic experts and police work at the scene where an armed robber was shot dead

Local media said the shop owner has been arrested on suspicion of murder
Local media said the shop owner has been arrested on suspicion of murder

The Pink Panthers, a notoriously audacious criminal network which operates across the world and especially in France, is thought to have been behind many of the raids.
They are well known for arriving at jewellery stores in cars or on mopeds before making off, especially in glamorous cities like Nice and Paris.
In 2008, four gang members dressed themselves up as women before breaking into France's Harry Winston jewellers in Paris, escaping with around 60 million pounds worth of goods.
Interpol estimates that there are hundreds of members of the group, and that many are ex soldiers from Serbia. Many are fluent in numerous languages and carry false passports.

“Pink Panther” Thief Caught In Hungary

A Montenegrin citizen suspected of being a member of the gang of international jewel thieves known as the Pink Panthers, has been captured in Hungary, the Budapest office of Interpol announced on Monday.

Mystery over $2m art collection found intact three years after theft




Three years after it vanished off the walls of an exclusive inner-Sydney apartment, a $2 million art collection that includes works by Charles Blackman, David Boyd and Pro Hart has been found in mysterious circumstances, intact inside a home in the city's south-west.
The 18 art works were reported stolen along with insignificant electrical goods from the Darling Point apartment of former high flying property developer Peter O'Mara in August 2010.
Tim Storrier
Police recover artwork stolen from a Darling Point home, including Capricorn Haze by Tim Storrier. Source: Supplied
PAINTINGS stolen from the Sydney penthouse of property developer Peter O'Mara have been uncovered by police during a raid on a house in the city's southwest.
Police discovered a hoard of 18 artworks estimated to be worth more than $1.5 million.
Some of the paintings had been removed from their frames and appear to have been rolled up, including Capricorn Haze, a signature Tim Storrier work of a burning log and starry sky.
Among the 18 works recovered by police on Monday were paintings by John Perceval, Garry Shead, Arthur Streeton and Norman Lindsay. They include John Coburn's The Tree of Life, Charles Blackman's Victoria and Moonlight and Robert Dickerson's The Girl in White.
Police discovered the paintings after investigations last month relating to stolen vehicles at the premises. Three luxury cars - a Ferrari, a Range Rover and a BMW - were also recovered in the raid.
Campsie local area commander Superintendent Michael McLean said he did not believe there was a connection between the vehicles and the paintings.
The pictures had been stored in a dry area and were intact, he said. "They have been referred to experts for further examination, and we are putting in place measures to ensure they are appropriately stored," Superintendent McLean said. "They were secreted within the home, they weren't on display."
The paintings were reported stolen from Mr O'Mara's luxury apartment in Darling Point in August 2010.
At the time, Mr O'Mara said he believed the theft was planned, and that his home was robbed when thieves knew he would be overseas. He described himself as a lifelong art collector. "It's a gut feeling, but the whole thing had to be set up - I think it's been set up for a while," he told The Sunday Telegraph.
"Not many people knew the artworks were here. You can't exactly see them from the road."
In 2011, Mr O'Mara's property development firm Habitare and other companies went into receivership, reportedly owing more than $30m. Habitare was also embroiled in an intellectual property dispute with another firm over house design.
His apartment in the Elandra building at Darling Point sold last year for $4.4m after being originally listed at $7m.
Art experts said it was unlikely the stolen pictures would have come up for sale because the Australian market is so small.
"Art theft in Australia is remarkably infrequent," said Bonhams Australia chairman Mark Fraser. "It's a small marketplace, and stolen art tends to stand out very distinctly."
Mr Fraser said auction houses relied on credible provenance and databases to ensure they did not trade stolen art.
Superintendent McLean said police inquiries were continuing.
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/visual-arts/hoard-of-stolen-paintings-worth-15m-recovered-in-police-raid/story-fn9d3avm-1226731853441#sthash.92jnxbwq.dpuf
Tim Storrier
Police recover artwork stolen from a Darling Point home, including Capricorn Haze by Tim Storrier. Source: Supplied
P
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/visual-arts/hoard-of-stolen-paintings-worth-15m-recovered-in-police-raid/story-fn9d3avm-1226731853441#sthash.92jnxbwq.dpuf
Tim Storrier
Police recover artwork stolen from a Darling Point home, including Capricorn Haze by Tim Storrier. Source: Supplied
P
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/visual-arts/hoard-of-stolen-paintings-worth-15m-recovered-in-police-raid/story-fn9d3avm-1226731853441#sthash.92jnxbwq.dpuf
The haul was uncovered in its entirety in a home at Wiley Park, when police carried out a search on Monday.
Police have recovered artworks worth over $1.5 million and three luxury cars in Sydney?s south-west.
Car discovery: The stolen Ferrari whose owner is unknown. Photo: Police Media
They also seized three luxury vehicles as part of investigations into car rebirthing. Detective Superintendent Michael McLean said the art works, which also included pieces by Norman Lindsay and Arthur Streeton, were intact but weren't on display in the home.
He said it was ''quite remarkable'' to find all of the stolen goods in the one place, three years on.
''We were quite surprised that we found everything from the initial break and enter, including the electrical goods,'' Superintendent McLean. ''That in itself I suppose is very remarkable.''

Peter O Mara.
Pleased: Developer Peter O'Mara. Photo: James Alcock

Mr O'Mara said it was ''great'' authorities had located his collection. Mr O'Mara said he was overseas when contacted by Fairfax media on Wednesday. He did not wish to comment further.
In the three years since his paintings were stolen, Mr O'Mara has had upheaval in his corporate and personal lives.
Superintendent McLean said police were still also talking with the owner and residents of the Wiley Park home.

Police have recovered artworks worth over $1.5 million.
Rare discovery: A painting is removed from the Wiley Park house. Photo: Police Media
Along with the Darling Point goods, they also recovered a Black Range Rover (reported stolen in 2011 from South Wentworthville), a blue BMW 325i (reported stolen in 2007 from Delahey in Victoria) and a Ferrari without identifying features. They are in different stages of repair.
Police are talking with Ferrari in a bid to identify who owns the car.
Mr O'Mara's former partner, the fashion designer Mela Purdie, said she had not had any contact with him for several years and downplayed their relationship. She said the stolen art was solely the property of Mr O'Mara, who had been collecting for 25 years.

Police have recovered artworks worth over $1.5 million. Returning: One of the Charles Blackman paintings. Photo: Police Media

70-Pound Painting Valued At $5,000 Stolen At Venice Festival


josh-serafin-stolen-painting.jpg
The stolen "Sea Leopard" painting measures 74"x40" including a black satin wood frame and weighs 70 pounds. (Photo: Art By Serafin)
A local artist is wondering how someone made off with one of his paintings since it weighs 70 pounds and is more than six feet wide.
Josh Serafin, who lives in Huntington Beach, was selling his work at the Abbot Kinney Festival on Sunday, ABC 7 reports. The painting that was stolen is of a leopard shark on recycled glass. Serafin says the piece is worth $5,000.
"It's 70 pounds. This is a heavy piece. I need help hanging it. It isn't light. So it was definitely a joint effort," Serafin said.
He said he was loading two other pieces and when he went to get the shark painting, it was gone. He said it's the first time he's had anything stolen in his 12 years of exhibiting.
His tent was set up in front of FEED Body & Soul restaurant at 1239 Abbot Kinney Blvd. The restaurant has a video camera facing the street, according to ABC, but going over surveillance footage usually takes a while.
"To steal someone's art that they spent so much time on, it's just hard to believe. I mean I guess, people, it must be that they're high," Serafin said. He's hoping someone comes forward to return the painting or i.d. the thieves.
If you have any information about this crime, contact Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.
A bigger (literally) art theft occurred earlier this year when thieves made off with a 200-pound bright pink dog statue from West Hollywood.

Halifax man gets nine years in prison for stealing artifacts, antiques


HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A Canadian man who admitted Wednesday he stole about $1 million in antiques and historic artifacts will spend nine years in prison, prosecutors said.
John Mark Tillman of Halifax, Nova Scotia, pleaded guilty to 40 charges, including fraud, theft and possession, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Police stumbled onto the case during a routine traffic stop in July 2012. An officer spotted a historic letter from British Gen. James Wolfe and a $1,500 check in Tillman's car. Detectives traced the letter to Killam Library at Dalhousie University, where it had been reported stolen.
Tillman, it turns out, was a regular at several university museums in Atlantic Canada over the years and took advantage of loose security at the academic libraries to make off with all manner of historic documents, some of which he resold and some he kept, police said.
Two of the more valuable thefts included a first edition of Charles Darwin's seminal "Origin of Species," stolen in 2009 and sold for $31,000, and a hand-written letter from George Washington to an associate in Halifax instructing the recipient to spy on British forces.
Tillman kept the Washington letter, which was reported stolen from Dalhousie and is estimated to be worth between $50,000 and $100,000.
Both prosecutors and Tillman's attorney agreed to a nine-year prison sentence minus one year for time served since his arrest.

Thieves make off with $300,000 in works by famed Costa Rica artist

Several paintings by Costa Rican artist Rafa Fernández were among the works stolen from a home in a Saturday heist in San Pedro.
Fernández works
Three of the six paintings by famed Costa Rican artist Rafa Fernández stolen on Saturday, Sept. 21. In 2011, the Judicial Investigative Police investigated a rash of thefts of the coveted works. Courtesy of Judicial Investigation Police
Art thieves may be once again targeting works by one of Costa Rica’s most famous artists.
On Saturday night, thieves made off with nearly $300,000 in stolen paintings and sculptures from a private residence in San Pedro, east of the capital.
The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) reported on Monday evening that the thieves stole six paintings by artist Rafa Fernández and three sculptures by Holgar Villegas valued at $300,000, along with some jewelry.
According to the OIJ, the burglars deactivated the home’s alarm, entered through a pedestrian gate and broke in the front door.
This is not the first time works by Fernández have been targeted by art thieves. In 2011, the OIJ investigated a rash of thefts involving the famous Tico artist's works. The stolen works have resurfaced in innocent buyers’ homes and private art galleries, as previously reported by The Tico Times.
Some buyers may not be so innocent, however. OIJ Director Francisco Segura told The Tico Times in 2011 that some buyers likely know that their prized possessions are stolen.
The Costa Rica Country Club in Escazú, southwest of San José, hosted an exhibition of works by Fernández, 78, on Sept. 5.

The Malawi National Museum begins to recover stolen goods

Cairo, 24 September 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA).
According to an article published in The Art Newspaper, 13 objects which had been taken during looting of the Malawi National Museum have been found, following an undercover operation by Egyptian police.
The return of the objects was accompanied by the arrest of a butcher, who had attempted to sell stolen goods to an undercover policeman acting as a potential buyer. It is the first arrest to have taken place in relation to the sacking of the museum. Objects recovered so far include a statue of the god Thoth, and a group of 6 terracotta statuettes.
The thefts took place during a significant period of looting which occurred throughout August 2013, resulting in the damage and theft of at least 1,060 pieces from the museum’s collection, which comprised 1,089 works in total. 400 objects have already been returned to the museum, and UNESCO sent an on-site team to work with the institution between 11 and 16 September. Inspectors indicated that, although the building was relatively undamaged, 600 cultural goods were still missing. Minister Mohammad Ibrahim has vowed to do whatever it takes to gather information about the thefts, and has offered small rewards to those who return pieces.
Azerbaijani famous artist’s works stolen
Local law-enforcement bodies and Interpol have been informed about the fact of theft

Baku. Konul Kamilgizi – APA. Azerbaijani artist Ashraf Muradoghlu’s two famous tableaus “Tehran conference” (linen, oil paint, 107x140cm) and “Lenin in Smolny” (linen, oil paint, 130x117cm) belonging to Baku Art Center have been stolen.

Baku Creative Center told APA that the fact of theft was detected during the recent internal inspection in the funds of Baku Art Centre. The aforementioned works by Muradoghlu was purchased by Baku Art Centre in 1988: “The tableaus have been demonstrated in numerous exhibitions in Baku and abroad over these years and their reproductions have been published in catalogs and magazines. The inventory register of Baku Art Center’s funds was last carried out in 2008. At that time, the abovementioned works by Ashraf Muradoghlu were at the center”.

The Center stated that the local law-enforcement bodies and Interpol have already been informed about the theft of works. At the same time, the cultural centers of Azerbaijan and several foreign countries are also being informed about this.

Baku Creative Center asks those who have information about the stolen works are to take into account the aforementioned fact and notify the center. AZN 500 prize is assigned for every piece.

Crime syndicate ‘targeting wealthy families’


Copy of ST_snuff box4 (36831350)
Supplied
An antique snuff box that was stolen from a wealthy Joburg family in July.
Johannesburg -
A syndicate is believed to be targeting Joburg’s wealthy families, with the Oppenheimers possibly being the latest victims.
An independent financial crimes investigator believes a major theft syndicate is operating in Gauteng, specialising in jewellery, art, and antiques.
Chad Thomas, from IRS Forensic Investigations, said this syndicate was different from the “Rolex Gang” that targeted wealthy individuals spotted at upmarket shopping centres and followed them home. Thomas suspects this syndicate recruits domestic workers employed by wealthy families.
An employee of the Oppenheimers, Edgar Rosenburg, opened a “general theft” case at Hillbrow police station on July 26. He describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as the general house manager at E Oppenheimer and Son.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed the case was being investigated. He said a person had been arrested and taken to court, but the prosecutor declined to proceed.
The suspect was released and further investigation was continuing.
The Oppenheimer theft case was opened a day after the reported theft of rare snuff boxes valued at R15 million.
The insurer of the boxes would not say who the snuff boxes belonged to, only that it was “a wealthy family” in Joburg who did not want to be named or their suburb identified.
John Pearson, the managing director of loss adjusters John Pearson & Associates, who are investigating the theft on instruction from Lloyd’s Underwriters in London, said the 20 stolen boxes were originally used to store scented powdered tobacco and were valued at more than R15m. A R1.5m reward was being offered for their return.
 
The managing director of Artinsure, Gordon Massie, said
“the frequency of art theft in the last financial year was up by 43 percent.”
 
In the past two months, IRS Forensic Investigations received information on similar cases.
One involved the theft of jewellery from a Mrs Chetty in Pretoria, the other the theft of a jewellery heirloom from a family in Norwood. Thomas said in both cases the domestic worker was the prime suspect.
Massie said 37 gold, silver and copper coins, two military medals and four commemorative coins – all part of a larger collection – were stolen in Parkview in February. He believed the thieves most likely had a known market and a buyer for the pieces.
 
James Teegar, managing director at Ernest Oppenheimer and Sons, refused to comment.

Stolen antiques recovered during police raid in Hove - See more at: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2013/09/13/stolen-antiques-recovered-during-police-raid-in-hove/23954#sthash.nRY4hSfm.dpuf

Stolen antiques recovered during police raid in Hove

Detectives have recovered antique and unusual items during a police raid in Hove.
They have published photographs of some of the items in the hope of finding their rightful owners.
Sussex Police said: “Officers executed a warrant at a property on Kingsway in Hove on (Thursday) 29 August and found a large number of antique-type items which they believe might be stolen.
“Police are hoping someone might recognise these unique-looking items.”
Stolen property recovered in Kingsway, HoveDetective Constable Louise Cave said: “We got a warrant for this address and found these items, some of which are very unusual.
“We are asking anyone who has had items stolen to have a look at the website and see if they recognise any of the pieces.
“We would like to return these items to their rightful owners as quickly as possible.”
Anyone who recognises the items is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 or email contact.centre@sussex.pnn.police.uk.
All the items can be seen at http://property.sussex-police.co.uk/view/hovelawns.
- See more at: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2013/09/13/stolen-antiques-recovered-during-police-raid-in-hove/23954#sthash.nRY4hSfm.dpuf

Stolen antiques recovered during police raid in Hove

Detectives have recovered antique and unusual items during a police raid in Hove.
They have published photographs of some of the items in the hope of finding their rightful owners.
Sussex Police said: “Officers executed a warrant at a property on Kingsway in Hove on (Thursday) 29 August and found a large number of antique-type items which they believe might be stolen.
“Police are hoping someone might recognise these unique-looking items.”
Stolen property recovered in Kingsway, HoveDetective Constable Louise Cave said: “We got a warrant for this address and found these items, some of which are very unusual.
“We are asking anyone who has had items stolen to have a look at the website and see if they recognise any of the pieces.
“We would like to return these items to their rightful owners as quickly as possible.”
Anyone who recognises the items is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 or email contact.centre@sussex.pnn.police.uk.
All the items can be seen at http://property.sussex-police.co.uk/view/hovelawns.
- See more at: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2013/09/13/stolen-antiques-recovered-during-police-raid-in-hove/23954#sthash.nRY4hSfm.dpuf

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