Robber ties up the Lord and Lady of the manor and get away with £700k of jewelleryAn intruder struck the owner of a country estate on the head before tying him and his wife up and running off with jewellery worth £700k.
Detectives are continuing their appeal for information after jewellery was stolen from Goodwood House, near Chichester, during a robbery.
A large amount of jewellery, including historic heirlooms worth more than £700,000, were taken during the break-in at around 4.30am on Wednesday (January 13).
Detective Inspector Till Sanderson said: "This was a frightening ordeal and I pay tribute to the courage of Lord and Lady March.
"The intruder broke in after scaling a ladder to an upstairs window, and his activity disturbed Lady March, who went to investigate. She disturbed the man, who was alone, and he pushed her and struck Lord March on the head, causing an injury to his ear. Lady March was then forced to open a safe and the man helped himself to jewellery. The couple were bound before the robber escaped with the items."
The police were called by a member of staff at around 6.30am when he arrived at work.
Detective Inspector Till Sanderson said: "They are devastated at the loss of these treasured items, many of which are irreplacable. We are making a nationwide appeal in a bid for information and to trace stolen jewellery. Forensic teams are working with detectives to investigate the circumstances and we are appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious activity during that night up until 7am or in the previous week to contact us.
"We are doing all we can try to trace the stolen treasures, liaising with auction houses, stately homes, dealers and those with specialist knowledge. I am appealing to anyone who may know anything to contact detectives on 101 quoting Operation Forster or alternatively you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org)."
The historic items, with huge sentimental value, include an 1820 diamond tiara, worth in the region of £400,000; an antique diamond necklace from the first half of the 19th century, worth in the region of £200,000; and an emerald intaglio and diamond ring from 1800, engraved with Duchess's coronet and monogram CL for Louise de Keroualle, mistress of Charles II. More than 40 items were stolen including emerald, diamond and sapphire rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces as well as antique Rolex and Girard Perregaux watches.
A 26-year-old man from Hampshire has been arrested on suspicion of robbery and has been bailed until February while investigations continue.
Goodwood stolen heirlooms 'likely to be broken up'
"The chances are they will dismantle the tiara to take the diamonds," said Filippo Guerrini-Maraldi, of insurance broker RK Harrison.
"The metal will be melted down and used for another item."
'Hit the jackpot'Sussex Police said the stolen tiara, dating from 1820, was worth in the region of £400,000.
Mr Guerrini-Maraldi said the thieves may not have been looking for specific items.
"They might be main-chancers and if they stumble across a tiara such as this they have hit the jackpot," he said.
But he added that if the thieves tried to sell the items intact they would be recovered.
Jewellery stolen from Goodwood House
- 1820 diamond tiara worth £400,000
- Diamond necklace from the first half of the 19th Century worth £200,000
- Emerald and diamond ring engraved with Duchess's coronet and monogram CL for Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, the mistress of Charles II
- Antique Rolex and Girard Perregaux watches
Det Insp Till Sanderson said the theft of the irreplaceable jewellery during a break-in early on Wednesday had "devastated" owners Lord and Lady March.
Police have appealed to anyone who can help trace the stolen items to come forward.
A 26-year-old man from Hampshire has been arrested in connection with the burglary and is in custody.
Suspected 'Pink Panther' robber jailed for 6 years
He was accused of being part of a €460,000 heist at a jewellery store in 2007 in which 32 Audemars Piguet luxury watches were stolen, as well as a watch belonging to a footballer who was caught up in the robbery. One of the robbers was overpowered at the scene but the rest of them made a getaway in a stolen car which was discovered one month later just over the French border.
The Pink Panthers, hailing from the Balkans, are considered to be the world's most successful jewel thieves and earned their nickname following a raid on a London branch of Graff Diamonds in New Bond Street in 2003. Almost £40 million worth of rings, bracelets and watches were stolen, making it the largest gems heist in Britain at the time. The robbers posed as wealthy potential customers and persuaded staff to open doors for them before helping themselves to diamonds worth millions. Only a fraction of the diamonds were ever recovered; one of them hidden in a pot of face cream – in a scene reminiscent of the 1975 film “The Return of the Pink Panther”, resulting in Interpol giving them the nickname the Pink Panthers. The gang themselves also adopted the name and wore pink shirts for a subsequent raid in Zurich.
The robbers are thought to be responsible for some of the most audacious thefts in criminal history, taking place in countries including France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Lichtenstein, Dubai and Japan. Their hits included a jewellery store in Saint-Tropez in 2005, with the gang making a dramatic escape on a speedboat.
Ivanovic and another suspect were finally arrested in Paris in May 2009. He was tried separately from his presumed accomplice, Zoran Kostic, who is in jail in France. Kostic, also from Montenegro, is thought to be the leader of the Pink Panther gang.
Ivanovic has already been sentenced by the French courts to three prison terms, and will serve his time in jail in France for these along with the sentence handed down to him by the Monegasque court. He insisted that he acted alone. “I don't know the Pink Panthers, that doesn't exist. I don't have a boss,” he told the court. But Prosecutor, Cyrielle Colle, said the Pink Panthers are not an organised gang with a head but “a community of men who know each other”, adding that Ivanovic could be attempting to protect others by suggesting that he was acting alone.
Next month (February 2016) the new theft guidelines announced by the Sentencing Council last October will come into force. For the first time, the significant harm which can result from crimes like theft of public artworks, stripping of lead from historic churches and the activities of ‘nighthawkers’ is being officially recognized within the English criminal legal system. Courts dealing with these ‘heritage offences’ will have to take into account the special nature of the cultural property concerned when sentencing offenders.
Heritage crime is a significant and growing problem. Churches and other historic buildings suffer thefts and vandalism on a daily basis, but it is generally only those high profile crimes which hit the headlines: In the UK, the theft of a Cezanne from Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum in 2000 and more recently, the act of “yellowism” against a £5million Rothko in 2012 at the Tate Modern; internationally, the theft of 13 Old Master paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 (interestingly the subject of an article in today’s Boston Globe, which reports on the somewhat mysterious reduction in sentence of one of the long-time suspects).
The harm caused by these offences is often irreversible and widely felt. While it is generally no problem to repair or replace a smashed window, a stolen television or a ransacked car, no such quick fix is available where the theft, or other crime involves a medieval burial site, an ancient shipwreck or a collection of Old Master paintings.
The new guidelines are not a bolt from the blue. Initiatives spearheaded by Historic England have raised awareness of heritage crime over the past five years and there are signs that this has already started to impact on the courts’ approach. In a number of important cases, judges have acknowledged the significance of the damage to cultural property and sentenced accordingly. The drive to increase understanding continues apace and Historic England’s current campaign to get the public on the look-out for lost post-war public art will hopefully provide a useful boost. The related exhibition (‘Out there: Our Post-War Public Art‘ opening at Somerset House on 3 February) will no doubt be fascinating.
The new guidelines have been welcomed by the sector and certainly signal progress in the fight against heritage crime. It will be interesting to track their practical implementation over the coming months and to see whether they will herald further, and perhaps broader and more far-reaching developments to tackle art crime over time.
Emily Gould is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Art and Law
Dirty Detective? Update
During the burglary in 2013, during which a 79-year-old was tied to a medieval chair and tortured, items worth between £150,000 and £200,000 were stolen.
They were unloaded at a container storage site in Hull some hours later.
The stolen goods included a gold ceremonial sword once belonging to Saddam Hussein and a suit of armour worn by Oliver Cromwell.
Egidijus Gapsys, of no fixed abode, was caught on CCTV opening the storage locker at T&H Container Storage in Leads Road, east Hull, before the gang arrived to unload the items.
A tearful Gapsys told Hull Crown Court he was punched and beaten into obeying the gang, and said he gave evidence against the ringleader at a court in Lithuania last year.
After the incident, Gapsys, 25, returned to his native Lithuania, but was arrested at the border when he returned to the UK on June 1, last year, as an HGV driver. He was stopped by the UK Border Agency at Dover.
Gapsys pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods as well as possession of a number of Class B drugs and false identification cards, which were also found in the locker.
Prosecuting, Simon Waley said: "The drugs were all Class B drugs and were synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones, total weight 360g."
He said police found about 30 to 40 blank ID cards, complete with metallic chips, ready to be made into fake identifications.
Gapsys was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.
Sentencing him, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said: "You are a weak individual and became embroiled in a gang of Eastern Europeans from Lithuania.
"In late September 2013, a very serious aggravated burglary was committed.
"His home was ransacked and a large number of high value antiques were stolen.
"You were involved in handling a significant portion of the stolen items found in the lock up garage.
"It appears that your role was to drive in and out of these premises, opening up as required and making provisions for vehicles to arrive with the stolen items.
"A significant amount of Class B drugs was found in the lock-up garage worth £7,000.
"There were a large number of fake ID cards.
"You were, in my judgment, a loyal lieutenant.
"You are just the sort of person that serious criminals recruit."
Judge Richardson said he offered mercy on Gapsys's sentence because of his efforts to bring the gang's leader to justice.
He said: "I have heard from you through a veil of tears that you met this man ... in Lithuania.
"You were working for that man when you came to England and were embroiled in criminal activities of a significant kind.
"And you have had to pay the price today.
"You gave evidence in a Lithuanian court against him, the ring leader. You helped the police in Lithuania
"That's a significant mitigating factor in this case.
"You are entitled to that significant reduction, taking it to four and a half years in prison."
$1.5 million jewel theft has dealer on edgeVISTA — A Vista gem dealer and sheriff’s investigators are trying to figure out who stole museum-quality gemstones and jewelry worth $1.5 million or more from his car trunk last weekend.
Charles Lawrence told deputies he had placed a gym bag full of the valuables in the trunk of his car the evening of Jan. 9th, checked two hours later to make sure the alarm was on, and discovered his loss the next morning.
Missing are more than 200 rings, a 27-carat diamond tennis bracelet, an 18-carat sapphire and 50 other gemstones, some worth more than $45,000, he said.
“I’m still a little shocked,” Lawrence, 70, owner of Charles & Co. Estate and Fine Jewelry, said in a phone interview Friday. “I’m still trying to understand what happened ... This is an awfully big robbery.”
He said he’d accepted two dozen sapphires, diamonds and other gems and unique Art Deco-style jewelry pieces on consignment from a Tustin owner, and planned to visit jewelry dealers in Orange County on Sunday to try to sell those pieces and others.
They were not insured, but he estimated their value at $1.5 million to $2 million.
“These are rare, near-flawless, very, very, very valuable pieces of jewelry that belong in a museum,” Lawrence said. “Nothing like this has happened to me in 50 years of business.”
Lawrence is offering a reward of $5,000 to $10,000 in diamonds for return of the stolen goods.
He said he has sold several items for the consignment customer since September, and had until Jan. 15 to sell the current items. The theft occurred just five days before he would have had them sold, he said.
“She has emailed me how upset she is,” Lawrence said. “She thinks I stole this stuff. This is a very delicate situation ... I’m numb with fear and fright.”
A sheriff’s official confirmed that Lawrence reported the theft on Sunday, and detectives were investigating.
Lawrence said he and his wife keep their residence on a private Vista road a secret, and has no friends visit there, but thinks the thief must have followed him home at some point. He keeps much of his valuable stock at the San Diego Jewelers Exchange in downtown San Diego, and operates a high-end jewelry store in Bangkok.
When he went outside to his car on Sunday, the alarm appeared to be on but the passenger door had been opened, the glove compartment door was torn off at the hinges, and the back seat was pulled forward to allow access to the trunk, Lawrence said. He said he thought it was odd that a neighbor’s guard dogs had not barked loudly at any nighttime intruders.
He said the owner of the consignment items had not had them appraised or insured, but had certificates of authenticity, which also were stolen.
“I don’t have insurance on this kind of thing. It’s not possible,” Lawrence said, adding that insurance rates are typically 3 percent of the gem’s value, and he couldn’t afford it.
Stolen gems returned to Vista owner
Motorcycle shop owner says he found bag of jewels worth estimated $1.5 millionVISTA — The case of the stolen gym bag filled with $1.5 million in gems and jewelry took an odd twist Saturday when a Vista man turned them over to the owner, saying he found them outside his motorcycle shop earlier in the week.
Matt Wilson called The San Diego Union-Tribune Saturday afternoon asking to be put in touch with the theft victim, Charles Lawrence, so he could hand over the bag containing display trays of estate-type rings, including a large sapphire surrounded by diamonds, a diamond tennis bracelet, and other items.
Lawrence, reached by phone, reacted to the news of the jewelry recovery with astonishment.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” he exclaimed. “I’m in shock.”
He went to Wilson’s shop and took possession of the bag, finding everything intact, Wilson said.
Lawrence reported to the Sheriff’s Department on Jan. 10 the loss of hundreds of uninsured rings, bracelets, gemstones and other items, many of which he had taken on consignment to sell for a Tustin woman. He said much of the jewelry was rare, of museum quality, and some was of Art Deco design. He estimated their value at $1.5 million to $2 million.
He had locked the bag into his car trunk outside his Vista home the night before, with plans to try to sell the jewelry to various dealers in Orange County the next day. But that morning he found his car alarm disarmed, his car back seat pulled away, and the bag missing.
Lawrence operates Charles & Co. Estate and Fine Jewelry and said he has been in the jewelry business for 50 years, with a store in Bangkok, Thailand.
Wilson said he has worked in Oregon and Vista as a private investigator and has owned Motorcycles Plus on South Santa Fe in Vista for about nine months.
He was outside his shop Tuesday night and noticed a plaid gym bag next to a locked Dumpster. He and a friend looked in the bag and saw trays of rings.
“We brought it inside. I don’t know much about jewelry — I didn’t know if it was real, or costume jewelry,” Wilson said. He said he took it to two jewelers, who assured him the gemstones were real.
After finding the bag, Wilson said, he found another gemstone and two rings in the mud another night.
“Did people drop the stuff? Could there be a trail of them?” Wilson asked.
He checked the Internet and Craigslist advertising website, but saw no reference to a loss of valuables. Then, he said, his friend showed him a Union-Tribune story about the theft, and he called the newspaper and the Sheriff’s Department.
Lawrence had said he would offer a reward of $5,000 to $10,000 in diamonds to whoever returned the stolen goods. Wilson said he wasn’t looking for any reward.
“As long as he got his stuff, that’s great,” Wilson said. “The whole thing is weird. How did someone break into the car and then it was put near the Dumpster. ... Nothing is gone. Why put it there?”
Lawrence said he notified the sheriff’s detective assigned to the case that his bag was recovered, and he was trying to reach his Tustin client to tell her the good news.
“It’s a good story with a good ending,” Lawrence said. “Everybody was doing what they should be doing. Everybody was honest.”
He added, “I’m going to sleep well tonight.”