Friday, September 18, 2009

Stolen Art: Interpol Steps Up

The theft of cultural objects affects developed and developing countries alike. The two countries most affected by this phenomenon are France and Italy. The illicit trade in cultural objects is sustained by the demand from the arts market, the opening of borders, the improvement in transport systems and the political instability of certain countries.
It is difficult to gauge the extent of the trade for two reasons
the theft is very often not discovered until the stolen objects are found on the official arts market. Countries send very little information to INTERPOL and many do not keep statistics on this type of criminality.

In order to combat the theft of cultural property, the relevant organizations and the public need to be made more aware of the problem. This is the primary objective of these web pages.
International organizations must lead the way in this fight, and since 1947, INTERPOL has been specifically involved. The first international notice on stolen works of art was published in that same year. Since then, the techniques have evolved greatly and INTERPOL has developed a highly efficient system for circulating information in the form of a database accessible to INTERPOL member countries, as well as the more widely available INTERPOL Stolen Works of Art CD-ROM. These web pages have been created to further extend the circulation of information concerning stolen works of art, and include

1. the most recent stolen works of art reported to INTERPOL
2. works of art recovered by the police during their enquiries and for which owners have not been identified
3. works of art recorded in the INTERPOL database and CD-ROM which have been recovered
the latest INTERPOL posters showing the most sought after stolen works of art

INTERPOL would like to encourage you to make extensive use of its services, and play an active role in the pooling and exchange of information. This is one of the most important contributions you can make to help curb the erosion of our cultural heritage.

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