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Information Appeal Launched

  • Date: 31/08/2012
  • Category: General

Derbyshire police today launched a public appeal for information regarding the theft of £53,000 worth of coins, medals and watches from Derby Museum and Art Gallery’s city-based storage facility.   

The collection of 1,000 artefacts from the undisclosed address was stolen sometime between May 2 and June 19 2012 and investigations so far have not led to the recovery of any of the stolen items.

Amongst the haul is a collection of around 20 18th and 19th century gold and silver watches worth up to £3000 each.  This includes examples made by clockmaker and scientist John Whitehurst, who was a member of the Midlands’ based Lunar Society, and a contemporary of Derby’s famous artist Joseph Wright.

Coins dating back more than 800 years have also been stolen alongside more modern coins from the early 20th century.

A rare collection of trade tokens is also missing which, although relatively low in value, is of particular historical interest as they chart the times in the 17th century when merchants issued their own coins as substitutes for official coins of low value, which were then in short supply.

The items were kept locked away only being used for exhibitions and special viewings.   Museum staff had worked on the collection fairly recently, but the thefts only came to light when the museum service was contacted by another museum with a request to borrow some of the items for their own displays.

Derbyshire police were contacted immediately and the incident was recorded with the Metropolitan Police Arts Crime Unit as well as the Arts Council England security advisory service in the hope that the culprits would try to sell them.

Meanwhile, additional security measures and procedures were put in place at the storage facility to ensure that further thefts would not take place.

Investigating officer DC Dee Hornblower said: “There has been no sign of a break in at the premises so the possibility that this was carried out with inside knowledge has at this stage not been ruled out. We have circulated details of the stolen items to every police force in the country in the hope that they can be traced.”

Derby City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture Martin Repton explained: “This is the first time that we have fallen victim to a crime of this nature in the storage facility.

“We continue to work closely with Derbyshire police, the Metropolitan Police Arts Crime Unit and Arts Council England.

“Furthermore contact is being made with art dealers, auction houses and collectors where items such as these could be sold.

 “The issue here is not just about the values of the stolen items but also the historical importance of many of the pieces.

“Our ultimate fear is that some of these items which are of a relative low monetary value could potentially be discarded by the culprit or culprits meaning that they would be lost forever with little chance of recovery.

“We are therefore also appealing to members of the public who may have any information to contact Derbyshire police.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the stolen items or the perpetrators of this crime is asked to contact Derbyshire police, Tel: 101, quoting incident 512 of 19/06/12 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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