Chinese artefact criminal gang sentenced in London

Four leaders of a criminal gang were convicted of the theft of around £57m ($79.7m) worth of Chinese artefacts in a trial that took place in London on February 29.

The robberies took place in 2012, with museums in Cambridge and Durham among those targeted.

Durham Uni Oriental
Durham University's Oriental Museum was among those targeted

The thefts show how the rising value of Chinese artefacts (boosted by newly wealthy middle and upper classes in the former communist state) is driving demand.

It's believed that most of the items would have been taken to China to be sold at auction. A London based fence, who was arranging transport to Hong Kong, was also tried yesterday.

Among the items stolen was a jade bowl valued at up to £16m. It was taken from Durham University's Oriental Museum, but was later returned after being found abandoned.

Detective Adrian Green explained to the Daily Mail the difficulties that museums face in safeguarding their collections: "They are a bit like banks where people can come in and touch the money.

"Their job is to hold items for the public and let them see them and it is quite difficult for them to get the balance right.

"The higher the security, the higher the budget to maintain that security. The difficult thing is, it is all driven by China's economic boom."

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