Each year thousands of items of stolen property are found by the police, but often there is no way of knowing who the owners are. A few simple measures can help your chances of recovering lost or stolen art and antiques.
Take photographs of your valuables. This won't stop a burglar, but it could help police to catch those responsible and to return your property. Photographs will also help with any insurance claims. Take a variety of shots, close -up and long distance, and, if possible:-
- Indicate the object's size and dimensions by placing a ruler next to small items, or write down the measurement.
- Show distinguishing marks, repair marks, hallmarks.
- Show the back and front of paintings.
- Don't use flash if you can help it. Good natural daylight is best. If you have to use a flash, try to avoid reflections.
You should make a record of your objects and try to keep your description to the "Object I.D." format recognised throughout the art world:
This should include:
- Type of object - painting, sculpture, clock, watch.
- Materials and techniques - brass, wood, oil, carved, cast, etched.
- Measurements - size and weight.
- Inscriptions and markings - signature, dedication, title, purity mark.
- Distinguishing features - damage, repairs, manufacturing defects.
- Title - name of painting or sculpture.
- Subject - what is pictured or represented.
- Maker - an individual, company or artistic group.
- Date of period of the maker or artist - art deco, contemporary etc.
Before you mark any piece of art or an antique it's a good idea to seek the advice of a conservationist as some marking methods can cause damage. For a small fee, the Conservation Register provides information on studios and workshops throughout the UK.
Keep it Secure
Having documented, photographed and marked your property, keep this information in a safe place. Do not keep it in anything that might be stolen.
Remember - a valuable object does not have to be one of financial worth, so record items which have sentimental value to you as well.
Don't Get Caught Out Buying Stolen Goods
- Be suspicious of any item where the asking price does not equate to its market value.
- Check the identity and address of the seller and record the details.
- Check with a relevant stolen property register, which, for a fee, will check its records, such as the Art Loss Register or TRACE.
- If you are still uncertain, refuse to buy it.
If you have any reason to believe an item may be stolen, contact your local police station or, in an emergency, dial 999.
If you spot your stolen property on sale, contact the local police immediately and wait for their assistance before confronting the dealer.
You should report all burglaries or theft to your local police station or dial 999.