As the yellow and black plastic promotional bags you handed out told me, the goods were netted in the Met's acclaimed Operation Bumblebee - which, as I understand, concentrates more on investigating suspected thieves than individual thefts. It has, you say, increased convictions and recovered large quantities of property.
Well, that's terrific and, as a recent victim of London's supposedly subsiding crime wave, I have more than a passing interest in the recovery of stolen valuables. But do you know how I found out about this exhibition? From a newspaper picture caption. Even though our burglary took place this year, was reported at the time, and the house was checked for fingerprints, no one made any effort to tell us that a trip to the Bishopsgate Hall might be worth our while.
Something else the newspaper caption told me was that only 5 per cent of recovered goods are claimed. I'm not surprised. When I was there, Bishopsgate Hall did seem sparsely populated, except by police and crime prevention people, who were sitting around in large numbers, talking to each other.
On inquiring of an officer why so little had been done to promote this exhibition and why it was being held on three weekdays when no one working outside the City would be able to attend, I learnt the following: Operation Bumblebee has little or no money for advertising and relies on press releases to attract news coverage. Given that an event is news only when it happens, the policy of press releases presents a bit of a problem. It had been advertised on local radio, but not all of us listen to local radio, Mr Condon.
Then, the goods exhibited were arranged according to the area of recovery, rather than loss - which does not make for easy searching.
Perhaps you could divert the money invested in those yellow plastic bags, info packs and special markers into some modest advertising of your exhibition. You could even sell the magic markers or get burglar alarm people to sponsor you. And you might consider a permanent exhibition of stolen goods like London Transport has for lost property. Then we could visit at our convenience. Perhaps we victims of burglary could be asked for a stamped, self-addressed envelope when we report our losses so we could be informed of the next exhibition.
Finally, an observation. The average burglar has a better eye for jewellery than Gerald Ratner, but is less discerning in the picture department. And, alas, none of the jewellery was mine.
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