December 11 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
NINETEEN people have today been arrested across the UK – including four men from Cambridgeshire and two from Essex- as part of a UK operation in connection with a series of high-value raids on museum and auction houses..
Seventeen men and two women are currently in custody following dawn raids in England and Northern Ireland.
Hundreds of officers from 26 police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) are involved in the operation and searches are ongoing at various locations.
Five men, aged 20, 31, 35, 53 and 54, and two women, aged 28 and 54, were arrested in London.
Four men, aged 24, 41, 44 and 56, were arrested in Cambridgeshire.
Two men, aged 28 and 46, were arrested in Essex.
A 60-year-old man was arrested in Sussex, a 32-year-old man was arrested in the West Midlands and a 67-year-old man was arrested in Nottingham.
Three men have been arrested in Northern Ireland.
All of those arrested are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle apart from the 54-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender. They are currently in custody at police stations across England and Northern Ireland.
The investigation is in connection with six crimes over a four-month period at museums and auction houses across England.
Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn were stolen in five incidents - three at Durham Museum, Gorringes Auction House in East Sussex and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
While much of the property was subsequently recovered, several high-value items are still missing
Searches were planned at addresses in Cambridgeshire, London, Sussex, West Midlands, Essex and Northern Ireland with police saying that a number of arrests were likely to be made.
Cambridgeshire police said the action was in connection with six crimes which took place over a four-month period last year at museums and auction houses across England. Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn were stolen in six incidents – three at Durham Museum, one at Gorringes Auction House in East Sussex and one each at Norwich Castle Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
While much of the property was subsequently recovered, several high-value items are still missing.
So far, eight people have been convicted and jailed for a total of more than 40 years for their roles in the break-ins.
ACPO lead for serious organised crime, Chief Constable Mick Creedon said: “The series of burglaries last year had a profound effect on museums and similar institutions and we are committed to bringing all those who were involved in the conspiracy to justice.
“Many of the stolen Chinese artefacts are still outstanding and a substantial reward remains on offer for information which leads to the safe return of those priceless items.”