Thursday, 23 June 2016

Stolen by a UK Metal Detectorist - from us all

As a result of Operation Chronos, a Surrey metal detectorist has been fined for stealing a Bronze Age gold ring ('Treasure hunter fined for stealing ancient gold ring' West Sussex County Times,  23 June 2016)
Ricky Smith, 34, of Cranleigh, was ordered to pay a total of £1,050 after being found guilty of theft at West Surrey Magistrates’ Court, said police. Smith was sentenced on Friday (June 17) after Surrey County Council staff told him he had to report his find to a coroner on September 17 2014. Smith, who had found the Bronze Age ring on bridleway in a private estate in Cranleigh, told the Finds Liaison department that he was a detectorist for 11 years and was ‘in it for the money’, said police. Three days later he called again to say that he was going to report the find to Sussex. But it was later confirmed that Smith had contacted a museum in Sussex but had not reported his find to the Coroner, breaching the 14 day gap granted by the Treasure Act legislation. Detectives later identified Smith and found the ring at his home. He was summonsed to appear for a court hearing on April 12 but failed to appear. A warrant was issued and he was arrested on May 9.
The police were necessary to know the identity of the finder? Why did the PAS FLO not know and report him? The article explains at some length that what peopłe are stealing bz pocketing stuff without reporting is knowledge. Knowledge theft is the real crime in irresponsible collecting. Of course the article contains the de rigeur English PAS claptrap:
“The vast majority of detectorists comply with the law and have made a number of significant discoveries that have added to knowledge to our shared cultural heritage.”
Bollocks, by PAS estimates (because not even they can be bothered to make the necessary effort to find out the real details) the majority of artefact hunters finds go UNreported - but yes, that is actually complying with a Bonkers-Britain law which is about as much help in protecting the buried heritage as a wet paper bag. And it is clearly untrue to claim that “The vast majority of detectorists [...] have made a number of significant discoveries". Many of them most frequently target known sites identified by "research" (sic) in existing archaeological literature and the plaintive claim that most of them do not find anything worth reporting is the stock explanation of why reporting is at such a pathetically low level after millions of pounds spent on attempting to get these people to adhere to even any rudimentary form of 'best practice'. Deceit after deceit, all at public cost.

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