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Historic weapons stolen in raid

PUBLISHED: 06:26 23 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

THIEVES stole a large quantity of historic guns during a raid on a Suffolk museum – but they were warned yesterday they could find it difficult to sell them to a dealer.

THIEVES stole a large quantity of historic guns during a raid on a Suffolk museum – but they were warned yesterday they could find it difficult to sell them to a dealer.

Extensive and complicated work would also be needed if the criminals wanted to bring the deactivated military artefacts back into operation. They stole guns, rifles and bomb grenades from Landguard Fort museum, Felixstowe.

Police said it was more likely the items would be sold on as historical military artefacts and yesterday they appealed for dealers to look out for the stolen hoard.

Between 3pm on January 17 and 10am on January 19 four Enfield rifles, including two .303s, and a Bren gun, all from the 1940s, and a Sten gun and a Bardan rifle, were stolen. A Royal Artillery sword, two Mills bomb grenades, several bayonets and other knives were taken.

David Tolliday, manager of the fort, which is run by the Landguard Fort Trust, said the items were taken from exhibitions at the monument and a store room.

Mr Tolliday said: "It is a great shame because we have had very little trouble at the fort in the past few years and no break-ins for a long time. Years ago youngsters were able to get in and around the building and it was always being broken into. With the work being done though on the fort, the security has been improved tremendously and it is now awfully difficult to get in there at all."

He added: ''There was minimal damage caused by the break in and the theft is our biggest concern – you have to think that they knew what they were looking for or hoping to find.

"They would only be able to sell them in a specialist market and we have very accurate records of the guns, photos, serial numbers and the decommissioning certificates, which any dealer would want to see."

CCTV film from the port which covers the fort and has been used previously to catch burglars is being examined. Dc Trevor Prior on 01473 613500 is investigating the theft.

English Heritage-owned Landguard Fort, the last place England was invaded by a foreign force, is open to the public during the tourist season and over the past few years has had £1.5 million spent on improvements, safety and security. It opens on April 6.


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