Friday 31 July 2015

Metal Detectorists Caught After Late Night Helicopter Chase

 Ariel view of Beit Shemesh archeological site  (photo IAA)
The The Hovav Ruins is an archaeological site dating back to the beginning of the Bronze Age and containing later structurs and finds. A week ago there was extensive vegetation fire which  removed surface vegetation and thorns which made it easier for metal detectorists to search for artefacts in the exposed ground. Sadly metal detector owning thieves in the area could not resist the temptation (Hayah Goldlist-Eichler 'Antiquities theft thwarted near Beit Shemesh in late night helicopter chase ', Jerusalem Post 30th July 2015). 
The theft of a trove of ancient coins was thwarted by a joint force of the Antiquities Authority and Yehuda Region Border Police late Tuesday evening in the Beit Shemesh area. The team of thieves was discovered by Antiquities Authority inspectors observing the area on Tuesday evening, digging and using a metal detector at the archeological site next to Taoz. The inspectors alerted the police who brought in a helicopter to apprehend the suspects. One was arrested while a second managed to flee the scene, though police know his identity. [...] According to the Antiquities Authority, the suspects were found to be in possession of an off-road vehicle, digging tools and an advanced metal detector. The suspect who was caught, a resident of Ramle in his 50s, was found in possession of 63 coins from the Second Temple and Roman periods, some 2,000 years old, that were stolen from the site. The suspect was brought in for questioning at the Yehuda Region police station and admitted to illegally digging at the site.

“Unfortunately, the activities of the suspects caused considerable damage to the site,” said Rotstein. “They dug dozens of shallow pits from which the ancient coins were looted, while disturbing the archeological strata, detaching the archeological findings from their context and leading to a loss of valuable archeological, historical and cultural knowledge to the country’s cultural heritage.”   [...] The case against the suspects will be handed over in the coming days to the state prosecution to prepare indictments.

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