Thieves jailed after losing £2m loot


Tom Wilkinson
Friday 08 February 2013 20:27

Two inept thieves who stole Chinese artefacts worth £2m from a museum but then could not find where they had stashed them were handed lengthy jail sentences.

Lee Wildman, 36, was jailed for nine years and Adrian Stanton, 33, was handed an eight-year term for planning and carrying out a raid at Durham University’s Oriental Museum last Easter.

They had planned the break-in well, choosing the night before Good Friday when the campus was quiet, using cloned number plates and chiselling a hole through a brick wall to get in and out of the building quickly.

From the display cabinets, they picked out two items – a 1769 jade bowl and a porcelain figurine – worth up to £2m. But their plan was flawed because after hiding the items on wasteland, Mr Wildman returned two days later but could not find them. He was seen by a witness searching the plot and speaking agitatedly on his mobile as the light faded.

Judge Christopher Prince told the defendants they had shown “crass ineptitude”. The items were found following a finger-tip search of the waste area.

Four accomplices were also give jail terms for their role in the raid.