The Metropolitan Police Arts and Antiques Unit disbanded in June 2017 but has been reformed to tackle an increase in antique theft and fraud.
The unit was disbanded after the Grenfell Tower fire so the officers working in the unit could help with the enquiry that followed the fire. There was a fear that due to budget cuts, the unit could be permanently dismantled. The antique trade is thankful that has not happened. Without a dedicated antique unit, it is difficult to stop art and antique crimes.
Detective sergeant Rob Upham the supervisor of the unit said:
“We’ve already started instigating investigations, have already yielded one arrest and from another investigation have recovered two paintings, previously reported stolen.”
The Art and Antiques Unit tackles fraud and theft of art, antiques and cultural items. It also edits the London Stolen Art Database that currently catalogues 54,000 stolen art works.
The Art and Antiques Unit is minor compared to the United States that has 400 officers investigating art and antiques crime, and 16 FBI special agents.
Britain is Europe’s biggest art market and has a large antiques trade. Lancashire antique dealers who sell valuable furniture such as French ormolu mounted vitrines and Victorian Burr Walnut Davenports are vigilant to avoid selling stolen or counterfeit antiques. The backing of specialist police offers such as those in the Metropolitan Art and Antiques Unit, is essential so that buyers are assured that they are buying genuine pieces with the correct providence.
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