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Essex: Police raids following museum and auction house thefts
10:16am Tuesday 10th September 2013 in Local News
Hundreds of officers executed warrants across six areas in connection with a number of high-value raids on museum and auction houses.
Twenty six police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency were involved in the operation.
Searches were carried at addresses in London, Sussex, West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Northern Ireland.
Two men from Basildon were among the 17 who were arrested as part of the operation.
The raids are linked to six crimes which took place over a four-month period last year.
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.
Most of the items were recovered but several 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: "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.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has set up a working group to crack down on the emerging issue of heritage crime. The group brings together police officers, English Heritage and other partners in the arts and museum sector to share intelligence and crime prevention advice.
Anyone with information that they believe could lead to tracing the stolen property can call 01733 863157, 01483 229198 quoting "7028/END" or 08703 120535.
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