In the Daily Mail recently there have been two articles about the theft of rare antiques from stately homes. The first theft at Sutton Park near York (the house of David Cameron’s father-in-law) took place in May this year, and the second at Firle Place near Lewes in East Sussex in July. The latter has been used as the backcloth for TV shows such as Jonathan Creek.
Both houses are open to the public at certain times of the year and precious antiques in the case of Sutton Park, it was felt by the owner, were stolen to order where pieces were earmarked during these public opening times. Firle Place has been broken into before so it would seem that public opening creates opportunities for discerning thieves to case these large stately homes on public viewing days when they can literally choose what they want, check to see if they have a ready market for the antique and then go in and commit the robbery.
Whether it is antique ceramics or antique furniture in Lancashire , East Sussex, Yorkshire or other parts of the country, the opportunity is obviously readily there. The owner of Sutton Park is convinced that a piece of Meissen porcelain stolen from him would find a ready market in Eastern Europe. So although the police have alerted local antiques dealers, it is unlikely that the stolen items would be offered for sale in this country. The robbery at Sutton Park only took two minutes and by the time the security guard had raised the alarm, the thieves had gone.
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