Museum raids: Thirteen charged after 'high-value' thefts

Police raiding homes at Smithy Fen in Cambridgeshire Image copyright Pool photos
Image caption Officers from 26 forces took part in raids in September 2013

Police investigating thefts of "high-value items" from museums and auction houses in England have charged 13 men.

Officers from 26 forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) made a number of arrests in raids in September last year.

The 13 men charged are from London, Cambridgeshire, the West Midlands, Essex and Northern Ireland.

The conspiracy to steal charges relate to thefts in Durham, Norwich, Cambridge, Kent and East Sussex.

The 40 co-ordinated police raids were made in connection with a series of crimes, including the theft of Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn over a four-month period in 2012.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Items from various Chinese dynasties were taken in Cambridge in April 2012

There were two thefts and an attempted theft at Durham University Oriental Museum as well as further incidents at Gorringes Auction House in Lewes, East Sussex; Norwich Castle Museum, the Powell Cotton Museum near Margate, Kent, and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, police said.

Twelve of the men arrested following the raids on 12 September 2013 have been released on bail and are expected to appear at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on 25 November.

Three of the men, aged 32, 36, 54, are from London. Three, aged 25, 42, 45, are from Cottenham in Cambridgeshire. Two men, aged 34 and 67, are from Wolverhampton.

Also charged are a 29-year-old man from Billericay, Essex, a 48-year-old man from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, a 44-year-old from Belfast and a 26-year-old man of no fixed address.

The 13th man accused, Daniel O'Brien, 44, of Cottenham in Cambridgeshire, was arrested earlier this week. He appeared at Birmingham Magistrates' Court earlier but did not enter a plea.

He is due to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on 1 December.

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