Arrest in £1m Firle Place art heist case
7:00pm Wednesday 14th July 2010
• By Ben Parsons, Crime Reporter »
Police have made an arrest in their hunt for the burglars behind a £1 million art heist at a stately home.
Detectives are remaining tight-lipped about the development in their inquiry into the theft of rare 18th century porcelain from Firle Place in July last year.
The pieces were among 20 items stolen from the home of millionaire landowner Viscount Gage.
Last month it was claimed the gang responsible may have carried out a string of other crimes.
The arrest took place on Thursday but police are refusing to reveal the age of their suspect or where they located him.
A spokesman for Sussex Police said yesterday: “A middle-aged man was arrested by detectives investigating the burglary.
“He was interviewed and bailed without charge until September pending further inquiries.”
The raid was featured in a recent Crimewatch appeal in which viewers were told the burglar had managed to break in through a first-floor windowby cutting out a small pane of glass and squeezing through the space.
Opening the window would have triggered an alarm.
The cabinets containing the items were the only spot in the building not covered by security systems.
He then carried the porcelain back through the empty window-pane and down a ladder before getting away.
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Ashcroft said: “It was immediately apparent this was not the work of an opportunist. This was definitely the work of a professional burglar.”
Dick Ellis, former head of the Scotland Yard art and antiques unit, has included the Firle Place raid on a list of major crimes he believes were committed by a single gang.