Bronze sculptures stolen from university

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The Independent Online

About 20 bronze sculptures, including a £3m Henry Moore, have been stolen in the past six months and may have been melted down for scrap, Scotland Yard fears.

The latest target was a £600,000 work displayed in the grounds of a university in London. Only part of the sculpture was taken in what one detective described yesterday as a modern-day version of stripping lead from a roof to sell for scrap.

The failure to recover any of the works, despite the offer of large rewards and some extensive police investigations, has led detectives to conclude a gang may be melting down the artwork. The scrap would only be worth a few thousand pounds.

The sculptures, which include a 7ft cockroach, have all been stolen from London and the home counties. A 6ft sculpture, entitled The Watchers, by Lynn Chadwick, was taken from Roehampton University in south west London, on 10 January. One of the three figures was cut at its feet and removed. Weighing a third of a ton, it would have taken eight men to carry it.

The theft comes just weeks after a £3m bronze sculpture was taken from the Henry Moore Foundation in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire. The thieves are believed to have used a flatbed lorry fitted with a crane.