One of the jade artefacts that was stolen in 2012 from the Fitzwilliam Museum

Twelve men to appear in court next week over museum thefts

Geraldine Kendall, 19.11.2014
Rhino horn and Chinese artefacts stolen during spate of raids
Twelve men are due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court next week charged in connection with the theft of high-value artefacts from museums and auction houses.

A 13th man was arrested earlier this month and will appear at Birmingham Crown Court on 1 December.

Most of the charges relate to conspiracy to steal. The high profile break-ins took place over a four-month period in 2012.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, Durham University Oriental Museum, Norwich Castle Museum and the Powell Cotton Museum in Kent were among the institutions targeted in the well-organised raids.

The items stolen have been valued in excess of £20m and include rhino horn, two 18th-century Chinese ornaments from Durham and 18 mostly jade Chinese artefacts from the Fitzwilliam. Some have since been recovered but a number of high-value items are still missing.

The twelve men due in court next week were arrested in September 2013 following an investigation that included officers from 26 police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. They are currently on bail.

The 13 men accused are from London, Cambridgeshire, the West Midlands, Essex and Northern Ireland.

Eight people have already been convicted and jailed in relation to the thefts.

Military medals stolen

Meanwhile, four second world war medals valued at more than £2,000 were stolen from the Yorkshire Air Museum on 3 November. The medals were taken during opening hours from a cabinet in an outbuilding of the museum.

Police have urged anyone with information to contact the North Yorkshire force on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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