Sunday 14 July 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Criminal gangs Trafficking Stolen Antiques Between Ireland and Britain

Robert Mulhern, "Police investigate antiques trafficking gangs", Irish Post July 10, 2013
Criminal gangs trafficking stolen priceless antiques between Ireland and Britain are the renewed focus of police units in both countries, security sources have revealed. [...] sources in Ireland have confirmed that the traffic of such artefacts [...] is the focus of criminal gangs on both sides of the Irish Sea and increasingly, chasing investigation units. Séamus Lynam from the National Museum said the trafficking posed a “continuing threat to the portable archaeological heritage of Ireland by metal detectorists”. He added: “Many items similar to those recovered have been offered for sale in recent times over the internet and are the subject of on-going investigations. “The recovery shows the determination of the National Museum, gardaí and other State bodies to protect the nation’s heritage and demonstrates the ability to recover important heritage objects even when they have been illegally removed from the jurisdiction.” 

I am sure if anyone known to be part of such "gangs" were members of a detecting forum near you, they'd be expelled immediately, no? Or do not UK metal detectorists recognize this as criminal activity? I note that the latest bust was due to a "tip from the British Museum", the "partners" of English and Welsh artefact hunters and collectors. How much plundering and smuggling of archaeological artefacts from England and Wales have they been instrumental in stopping?

Vignette: Irish Times photo.

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