Monday, 27 August 2012

Metal Detecting Under the Microscope: Metal Detectorist Charged over Thefts from Lincolnshire Fields

Last year, landowners in the Horncastle area reported damage to crops and artefacts being stolen from the ground. In February 2011 Operation Totem was launched to combat illegal metal detecting in the area. A metal detectorist has now reportedly been found guilty of theft for illegally searching for historic artefacts in fields in the area:
As part of the operation, a team of officers from Horncastle, assisted by South Yorkshire Police and English Heritage, obtained a search warrant at an address in Rotherham. Kevin Thomas Lomas, 41, was arrested following the discovery of a large quantity of coins and historic artefacts at his home, along with metal detecting equipment. Over the next year, enquires were carried out to identify the property seized and gather evidence. Some items were taken to the British Museum and examined by experts. Lomas was eventually charged with 12 offences relating to the investigation and appeared at Skegness Magistrates Court. He was found guilty of eight counts of theft and one offence of going equipped to steal. An order was made forcing him to forfeit his metal detection equipment and associated items. He received a 12-month condition[al] discharge and was ordered to pay £400 towards costs. Sergeant Alasdair Booth, of Horncastle Police, said: “This case send out a clear message that illegal metal detecting and heritage crime will be taken seriously.
No actually it does not, not really. Because it is not taken seriously. If he'd stolen cables from eight segments of railway track, or eight police cars, would he have got the same sentence ?  Sergeant Alasdair Booth, of Horncastle Police also said what he'd been told to say:

"While there are many responsible people who legitimately enjoy metal detecting with the permission of land owners, whilst using the proper channels to register and dispose of items that they may find, there are a small minority who persist in operating outside the law.”
How does Sergeant Booth know its a "minority"? Because they'd only caught one guy? But it is good to see that Sergeant Booth also thinks that registering the finds through the proper channels is the ONLY way that one can define "responsible" - though I am not sure what he has in mind in saying they are: "using the proper channels to [...] dispose of items that they may find"? EBay? Timelines? What on earth is he on about?

Now it is worth noting that the distance from Rotherham to Horncastle is 88km, quite a long way to drive in the dark to find a site.

Barnaby B.[sic], 'Metal detectorist charged over thefts from Lincolnshire fields', This is Lincolnshire August 25, 2012

Lincolnshire police press release, 'Operation Totem, 41 year-old man convicted',  23rd August 2012

Photo:  Kevin Thomas Lomas, metal detector user.
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