Essex: Police take part in raids in connection with high-value museum thefts

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- Credit: Archant © 2007

Police in Essex are today taking part in a series of raids being carried out across the country in connection with a number of high-value raids on museum and auction houses.

Hundreds of officers from 26 police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency are involved in the operation.

The series of warrants are being executed at addresses in London, Sussex, West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Northern Ireland.

Police say a number of arrests are likely to be made.

Today’s searches are in connection with six crimes which took place over a four-month period last year at museums and auction houses.

Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn were stolen – three from 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.

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So far, eight people have been convicted and jailed for a total of more than 40 years for their roles in the break-ins.

Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead for serious organised crime, Chief Constable Mick Creedon said: “Today’s operation follows a long and complex pan-European investigation involving officers from 26 police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

“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.”