easier pickings than museums?
Paris, 28 March 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA).
The French Central Office Against the Traffic of Cultural Goods (OCBC) has published its yearly report on trafficking in France. The report states, as it has for the past nine years, that the number of cases is dropping, from 7,180 in 2002 to 1,173 in 2011.
The number of cases in the majority of categories has gone down.
The number of thefts from castles and other prestigious residencies has dropped from 562 cases in 2002 to 68 in 2011. Over the same period, the number of thefts from art galleries over the same period went from 78 to 61.
Thefts from houses and apartments, where they are most common, fell from 6,159 to 775.
The figures concerning museums stayed relatively stable, going from 39 to 24.
This overall drop is easy to explain. Establishments are reinforcing their security systems, improving their data bases and getting better and better at legally documenting their collections. The consequences of stealing works considered to be part of French national heritage are also to become more serious. As a result, it is becoming more and more difficult and dangerous for potential thieves to take pieces.
Another point should be taken into consideration: changes on the market for precious metals, the prices of which have massively increased in 2011. A new trend has consequently appeared: the theft of objects from places of worship, including crucifixes, chalices and statues. As churches rarely have high security, they make easy targets. Thefts from places of worship had dropped from 365 to 119 between 2002 and 2010, but this number went back up to 245 in 2011.