LONDON. Following a recent spate of porcelain thefts in England, Graham Geoffrey Harkin, 57, of Wakefield was sentenced to nine years in prison at Carlisle Crown Court. Harkin pleaded guilty to three charges of burglary or handling stolen goods.
The most serious loss was at Firle Place in Sussex, where £1m of Meissen was taken on 19 July 2009. Harkin was also involved in the theft of ceramics at Longner Hall, near Shrewsbury, and handling a £200,000 clock from Levens Hall, Kendal. All three country houses are open to visitors.
Harkin had 18 previous convictions. An associate, Gary Swindell, 58, of Bradford, received three years for handling stolen goods from Longner.
None of the porcelain taken by Harkin has been recovered—although the hunt continues. Last year we recorded 21 major ceramics thefts in England since 2007, which appear to have been done by at least three separate gangs.