Entries in Theft (6)


Video Released of Daring Rotterdam Art Heist

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROTTERDAM, Netherlands) -- Dutch police have released security footage from a daring art heist in which thieves broke into Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum and stole seven paintings by famous modern artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

In the video, the two black-hooded thieves can be seen rushing in to the museum through what appears to be a side door, leaving the door swinging open while they gather the paintings. Less than two minutes later, they return with large parcels on their backs and run outside.

Moments later, one of the burglars returns and runs back in, but is back out the door in about 15 seconds. It is unclear what he or she was doing. There is some movement in the dark, but within seconds, the door is closed and the robbers are gone.

Police arrived at the museum less than five minutes after alarms started ringing, but it was too late. The thieves were gone.

Authorities are hoping that the release of the video could help them gather more tips.


It is being called one of the most dramatic and daring art heists in recent years. The masterpieces that were stolen have been valued at $100 million or more.

But Christopher Marinello of The Art Loss Register told ABC News’ Jeffrey Kofman that the value doesn’t mean much because the works are so well known.

“They are worthless, they can’t sell them,” he said. “However, to thieves they can trade for weapons, guns, they can use them for a get-out-of-jail-free card. They can try to make some demands for a reward from some insurance company or try and get some sort of a ransom out of them.”

At a press conference on Oct. 16, the museum described the theft as a “nightmare for the museum, and a real bombshell.”

The director of the Kunsthal museum says all the paintings are registered in special databases and that the museum works closely with at the Art Loss Register in England, the world’s largest database of stolen art.  Marinello said it was clear some of the most valuable pieces in the collection were targeted and that “those thieves got one hell of a haul.”

Ton Cremers, who founded the Museum Security Network, said he believes the “paintings will remain in the crime scene for many years. Maybe because they can’t sell them they might destroy them, but again it’s impossible to sell them.”

Dutch police are reviewing the surveillance camera footage. A Rotterdam TV station reports that police have already taken plaster casts outside the museum, possibly to discern what kind of vehicle was used as a getaway car. Police have said they believe the thieves entered the museum from the back.

According to Cremers, there is a “very modern security system in this museum and the alarm response was very quick, so the thieves were not able to steal many paintings, but unfortunately they managed to get out with a few paintings.”

On a radio program, the former director of the museum said that the priceless paintings might mean the theft was commissioned -- or that the works were “kidnapped” so that that the burglars could ask for a ransom.

The museum had just opened a new exhibition a few days earlier to celebrate its 20th anniversary, showing different genres such as impressionism, expressionism, and other modern art movements. More than 150 paintings were on display in the exhibit and came from the privately owned Triton Foundation collection.

The stolen paintings listed on the Dutch police website include:

  •     Pablo Picasso: “Tête d’Arlequin”
  •     Henri Matisse: “la Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune”
  •     Claude Monet: “Waterloo Bridge, London”
  •     Claude Monet: “Charing Cross Bridge, London”
  •     Paul Gauguin: “Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte, dite la Fiancée”
  •     Meyer de Haan: “Autoportrait” (c. 1889 – ’91)
  •     Lucian Freud: “Woman with Eyes Closed” (2002).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Crown Jewels Stolen from Ghana’s Royal Family

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OSLO, Norway) -- Precious ancestral crown jewels were stolen from Ghana’s king while he was on a business trip to Norway and Oslo and police are trying to track down the thieves who were caught on video cameras.

The gold jewelry that has been handed down through generations of the Ashanti royal family in Ghana was in a briefcase when someone snatched it Wednesday from a hotel lobby.

King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and his delegation were staying at the Oslo hotel while representing Ghana at a business conference.  Police told local media they have “good” surveillance pictures that they are looking through to identify suspects.

Ashanti kings are often heavily adorned in ornate golden jewelry when they make public appearances.  Historians say it is meant to symbolize the power and prestige of the Ashanti people, and many of the jewels hold symbolic spiritual meaning.

When word of the jewelry heist reached Ghana, some questioned whether the theft could lead to the king being dethroned, or rather, “destooled” because for hundreds of years Ashanti kings have been seated on a golden stool during coronation ceremonies.  However, the king’s secretary said Friday there is no cause for such drastic action because only “a few” jewels were stolen.

“It’s not such a big deal as people are speculating,” Kofi Owusu Boateng said in an interview with the BBC.

Boateng said only some rings and headwear were taken.  He said he could not estimate the dollar value of the items.

King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II became the 16th leader of Ghana’s largest ethnic group, the Ashanti (or Asante) in 1999.  Ghana’s constitution does not allow him or other traditional leaders to get involved in politics officially, but he is influential as a revered figurehead and does decide some local matters.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cops Say Japanese Man Stole More Than 1,100 Library Books -- Japanese police have arrested a 61-year-old man accused of stealing more than 1,100 library books.

Officials say Mitsuka Suizu was initially arrested in July for taking a few books from the public library in Nagato, in western Japan.  When police searched his home in the city of Ube, Suizu admitted to taking 1,170 books over a seven-year period, and stashing them at home, where he lived with his wife and two children.

The estimated value of the paperbacks?  More than $25,000.

“He loves books,” Nagato police spokesman Yosuke Miyoshi told ABC News.  “He didn’t just want to read them.  He wanted them by his side.”

Miyoshi said the volumes, taken from 15 local libraries, ranged from encyclopedias to history books and books about insects.

Suizu was fully employed until his arrest in July, and visited various libraries during his work breaks.

“None of [the libraries] had security gates, so he was able to get by relatively unnoticed,” Miyoshi said.

Librarians have identified 896 of those books as their own so far.  Miyoshi says police are still trying to track down where the remaining 274 books came from.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Roman Artifacts Targeted by Tourists as Take-Home Gifts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROME) -- Italian authorities say that tourists are loving their visit to Rome so much, they’re trying to take a bit of the city back home with them.

According to The Telegraph, security at the capital’s Fiumicino and Ciampino airports say their staffs have noticed an increase in cobblestones and other artifacts showing up in fliers’ luggage during X-ray screenings.

“The phenomenon is definitely on the increase,” said Antonio del Grego, head of Fiumicino’s frontier police. “The airport police and security are on the alert.”

Though some media reports said the pieces looked more like the modern-day cobblestones now mostly made in China, del Grego said that was not the case.

“Most of the cobblestones we found are the handmade ones from the 1900s,” del Grego told ABC News Monday. “They are not the newer ones.”

In addition to the blocks, tourists have also reportedly tried to transport volcanic rock, ancient Roman mosaics and milestone.

“Some of the bits of archaeological pieces could be from the Colosseum, we think, but it is hard to identify from where they were taken from,” del Grego said.

The frontier police head said that an expert had confirmed that a mosaic uncovered in a person’s baggage had come from an archaeological site at Ostia Antica, an ancient Roman port.

In the last six months, 10 people have been denounced for theft. Del Grego said that none of the people stopped had been American.

“Many of them are people from northern Europe of a certain age,” he said. “It is hard because we have to prove that these items are stolen and as the value of the stolen good is of little value and we often don’t know where it comes from, this is difficult.”

Del Grego told the Telegraph that those found with stones or other artifacts were not arrested. They are cautioned and the artifacts are returned to the city.

“More than the judicial proceeding, what we hope will put people off is the shame they will feel when they are discovered,” he said. “Then along with the shame, some even miss their flights.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Picasso Piece Stolen from Greece’s Largest Art Museum

LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images(ATHENS, Greece) -- Thieves executed a brazen early-morning burglary of Greece’s largest art museum on Monday, making off with three works, including one by the 20th-century master Pablo Picasso.

The burglars were able to take advantage of the National Art Gallery’s soft security, which was short-staffed because of striking workers, officials said.

Greece, beset by riots, strikes and economic pressure, has had to make numerous cuts in the public sector, including museum security.

The heist was successful thanks to a combination of planning, patience and timing, officials said. Alarms were intentionally set off numerous times on Sunday, leading the guards to disable at least one of the alarms, providing the thieves easy entrance through a balcony door.

With the alarm disabled, the thieves entered the museum and worked quickly, stripping paintings from their frames and absconding with the cubist female bust by Picasso -- a 1949 gift to Greece in memory of World War II.

They also took an oil painting by 20th-century master Piet Mondrian and a pen-and-ink drawing by Italian 16th-century painter Guglielmo Caccia, officials said.

An attempt to steal a fourth work -- also by Mondrian -- was abandoned after a sensor was triggered in an exhibition space, bringing the attention of the guard.  The guard saw only the back of a man running away, with no further identification or clues on the thieves.

The heist reportedly took only a matter of minutes.  Museum officials were unable to estimate the total cost of the stolen works.

Greek police are continuing their investigation.  The museum will remain closed for refurbishment; it is unclear whether the security will be upgraded as well.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Swedish Police Follow Snow Imprints to Christmas Tree Thieves

Flickr Open/Getty Images(STOCKHOLM, Sweden) -- It wasn't too difficult for police in Sweden to track down two people who stole Christmas trees from a seller in the European country.

According to Swedish reports, police say someone told them that a man and a woman were nosing around a tarpaulin under which the seller was keeping trees.

The two dragged away three trees, but police noticed the tree's imprints in the snow and followed the tracks straight to the thieves.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio