|Cambridgeshire Jade Robbery April 13, 2012|
Fitzwilliam Museum Robbery of Jades
On April 13th in Cambridge, England a small team of thieves broke into the Fitzwilliam Museum at around 7:30 in the evening and stole part of the museum's Asian art collection. The haul has been valued at around $60,000,000 (yeah million) in Ming to Qing Chinese Dynasty jades. The number taken is believed to be 18 in number. This is only one of several robberies of recent months and several others that failed. The Fitzwilliam museum robbery of jades is just one of several in the region.
The keeper of the museum's applied arts Dr Victoria Avery expressed all the sadness curators do when they are robbed, but no one has yet to explain how the robbery took place in just minutes. (and its still light out) Which is a silly question to ask in the case of most of these kinds of robberies, dozens of museums with really great collections have cheaper alarm systems and worse security than the average well to do homeowner living in the suburbs has, if anything at all beyond basic door and window sensors. Despite their facades of invulnerability, the facade is just that...
Sadly for the thieves and happily for the local Cambridge Police and London's Metropolitan police (as anyone who has been to England in the last ten years will tell you) every street corner in the UK seems to have a CCTV (closed circuit TV) on it...In this case it was no exception. yes, of course the van was stolen and has yet to be recovered. Its always nice to have pictures though.
After an appeal on the BBC and other news outlets, calls started pouring into the Cambridge Police. (Calling all ex-wives and angry girlfriends) Two arrests were made by May 3, they believe a total of four may have been involved in the robbery and "may" have been working together. Its hard to imagine it was to two bands of thieves working in pairs who met inside the museum and decided to team up, "hey mate, you here for the jades?..yeah us too". Those arrested were Patrick Kiely, East London ,28 years old and a 15 year old teenager, another fellow thought to be a money launderer age 31 was arrested and then released on bail. Real pros!! When you can knock over a museum for 60 Million dollars and so far the oldest in the crew is 28 working with a high school Sophomore, you have some security issues.
|Thieves Driving along....so happy!|
So far the opinion of the police and investigators is the robbery was "planned" and the thieves had probably been in the museum before the robbery. (brilliant deduction!) At which time they discovered the museum's "Achilles heels" i.e. a door or window you can open with a a credit card or screw driver.
For now they haven't recovered the carvings, but they some how believe they are still in the UK. Why they think that no one seems to know, further they have through experts decided the robbery wasn't done "to order", just a plain old fashioned robbery.
|Fitzwilliam Museum Jade Stolen|
For now every dealer in the UK and around Europe, Asia and the US has been notified by the police to "be on the lookout for the BEST jades you've ever seen outside the National Palace Museum". They will be tough to sell and if they do it will be for pennies on the pound. They've even given the investigation a code name! "Operation Tundra".. What a theft of Jades in a dusty UK Museum has to do with an Arctic wasteland is beyond me, must be a British thing. Perhaps "Operation Cheap Benefactors" would be better. if you know anything about this you can Email them! [email protected]
So if your boy friend came home a few weeks ago with a few new things for the curio cabinet...and you're not ready for jail just yet, reach out to the Cambridge cops. You might get a reward, cash out before you get cashed in!
While a robbery of a major museum is nothing to laugh at, how a thing like this can happen in "minutes", in a place that looks like a fortress, is food for thought. How poorly are these institutions, not just in the UK, protected?
Over 20 years ago in 1990 the Gardner Museum in Boston was robbed in the middle of the night after the Guards let some men in dressed like Boston Policemen. The dumbbells on duty didn't bother to call the local Police Station to verify the identity's of the folks knocking on the door after midnight! 200 Million dollars lost and two decades later nothing has been recovered from that fiasco. Lets hope the Fitzwilliam has more luck.
Alan Evans says
The thieves were caught and jailed, but most of the Jades have not been recovered !
I work near to the museum in Cambridge and I can’t comprehend how the thieves could break in to a building with so many extremely valuable objects without too much difficulty.