The BBC is reporting this morning that last Friday, the 13th of April, Cambridge University Museum was broken into and several highly valuable pieces were stolen. What makes this robbery even more intriguing than it already is, is that it occurred just over a week after a similar break in occurred at Durham Oriental Museum.
We previously profiled Durham Oriental Museum, which contains a large collection of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other Asian artefacts. The gang of thieves spent around 40 minutes breaking a hole in the outside wall and reportedly less than 1 minute inside the museum, indicating a well planned operation. The items stolen were two Chinese items from the 18th century Qing Dynasty, a jade bowl with a poem etched inside and a porcelain figure, the two items are valued at over £2 million.
“I am sure this job has been planned for some time. I think the artefacts have been stolen to order for someone who has identified a potential market.” – Det Supt Adrian Green
5 men have been arrested for the Durham break in so far and 2 more are wanted in connection to the crime. Durham police recovered the items from the nearby Brandon area, just a few miles from the scene of the crime. The items are in outwardly excellent condition but they are being checked by specialists to ensure this is the case.
There are certainly many questions surrounding the two cases, how are the case connected? Who and where are these artefacts intended for? Are other Asian artefacts at risk? Certainly it appears that Chinese artefacts are being targeted, having been the goal in both cases, for now.
In the Cambridge case it it’s reported that over £18 million worth of artefacts were stolen. Here’s hoping that the case has as good an ending as the Durham case, and no more incidents endanger Asian artefacts in British museums. Anyone with any information about either crime is encouraged to contact their local police force.
The Durham Oriental Museum remains open to the public.