England’s stately homes are being targeted by organised gangs who are stealing important porcelain pieces. With at least 21 major cases in the past three years, and a further 15 attempted robberies according to a leading criminal expert Dick Ellis, former head of Scotland Yard’s art and antiques unit. Targets include Firle Place in Sussex, where porcelain worth £500,000 was seized last summer and Sutton Park, the home of Sir Reginald Sheffield—the father of Samantha Cameron, the prime minister’s wife. In most cases the criminals seem to know exactly what they are looking for and spend only a minutes in the house.
Dick Ellis said, "I have identified three gangs, who appear to be responsible for most of the 36 thefts and attempted break-ins. The first operates at night, removing sections of glass from windows, often with the use of a ladder (it may have been responsible for the Firle Place and Sutton Park losses). The second gang, which forces its way through a door or window, includes a very small person who is able to squeeze into narrow openings. The third targets country houses open to visitors, using very rapid forced entry. All three gangs are highly professional."
The Art Newspaper