Wallace Collection survives an attempted art robbery Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals Targeted, They Will Be Back !!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
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
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
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 securityThe 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Car discovery: The stolen Ferrari whose owner is unknown. Photo: Police Media