£5m worth of stolen antiques recovered by police

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The Independent Online

Police have recovered £5 million of antiques stolen during raids on stately homes.

The 14 items, described as of significant cultural and historic value, were recovered from lock-ups at two residential premises in South and West Yorkshire.

The antiques are believed to have been stolen from Newby Hall and Sion Hill in North Yorkshire and Firle Place in East Sussex.

Of significant value is a George III rosewood Chippendale table, thought to have been made especially for Newby Hall in Ripon in 1775 but was stolen from the stately home in June 2009. The table is described as having worldwide importance.

Also recovered was a pair of Louis XVI ormolu and Sevres bleu vases, with an insurance value of £950,000. These were taken from Firle Place in July 2009 along with a Meissen statue, The Indiscreet Harlequin (circa 1743), and a rare Sevres Hollandois Nouveau vase of 1761, valued at £180,000 each.

Officers said the total value of the stolen Firle Place porcelain collection was £1.3 million.

Another of the recovered antiques is an embellished bracket clock made by Daniel Delander of London in around 1710. It is believed to be the same clock that was reported as stolen from Sion Hill Hall in Northallerton in February 2009.

The recovery of the antiques marked the culmination of a year-long investigation by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, who received support from West Yorkshire Police and officers from the Regional Roads Crime Team, North Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police.

Detective Supt Steve Waite, head of regional intelligence, said: "We are so pleased and proud to have recovered these high-value antiques which have been described as true pieces of British heritage.

"We will now begin the formal process of identification and will eventually be in a position to reunite the pieces with their owners. For now, they will remain under lock and key in a controlled environment so as to preserve them.

"Only a couple of items have suffered minor damage in the ordeal but this just goes to show that those involved in the thefts were not in it for their love of antiques. In fact, recent trends indicate that these types of high-value items are actually being used by organised crime groups as currency or collateral in relation to serious criminality, often involving drugs."

: A 68-year-old man, from Tankersley, South Yorkshire, and a 44-year-old man, from Middleton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, are being questioned by police while the recovered items continue to be formally identified by experts.