HALIFAX – John Mark Tillman was sentenced Wednesday to nine years in prison for the theft of hundreds of artifacts from museums, galleries and archives in the Maritimes.
Tillman will only serve eight years less seven days in a federal institution after credit for time served. He has been in custody since January.
“We felt it was important to distinguish this case from simply a theft of lets say electronics, which you can replace easily and readily,” said Crown Attorney Mark Heerema.
The sentence was a joint recommendation between the Crown and Tillman’s defence lawyer, Mark Bailey.
About 1,600 antiques, ranging from rare books to sculptures, were found in almost every part of Tillman’s home. Read more.
Nineteen people have been arrested around the country in an operation involving 26 police forces in connection with a spate of thefts of artefacts worth millions from museums and auction houses.
The 17 men and two women were held in dawn raids involving hundreds of police around England and Northern Ireland. The operation, which follows a pan-European investigation, also involved officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
The arrests were connected to six thefts over a four-month period last year: three at Durham Museum and the others at a Norwich museum, the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge and at Gorringes auction house in Lewes, East Sussex. Items stolen included Chinese antiquities worth more than £15m and a rhinoceros horn. Read more.
The Luxor Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced in absentia six people to life imprisonment and five others to 10 years in prison for armed robbery of the antiquity storage area belonging to the German mission in Luxor and the theft of two ancient statues.
On 19 March of last year, an armed group attacked the stores of the mission in Qurna, west of Luxor, wounded three guards, smashed the doors and stole an ancient Egyptian statue made of black granite and another of Sekhmet, the ancient Egyptian goddess of war.
According to the state-owned MENA news agency, a military court had sentenced the 10 defendants, including five at large, to a prison sentence of 25 years. It acquitted one of the defendants, Hassan Mahmoud, who was accused of driving the car used in the robbery. Read more.
British police have arrested two suspects in conjunction with the recent theft of 18 rare Chinese artifacts from the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge.
"Officers from Cambridgeshire, along with officers from the Metropolitan Police, carried out two warrants at addresses in London," according to a police statement issued Wednesday.
"Both men are currently on their way to Cambridgeshire."
On the evening of April 13, robbers snatched 18 valuable, mostly jade, artifacts — including a Ming jade cup dating from the 14th century — from the museum. The Fitzwilliam features a wide-ranging collection of artwork and antiquities from various civilizations and centuries.
The stolen pieces had been given as gifts or bequests to the museum, with some experts estimating the artifacts to be worth approximately £18 million (about $28.7 million Cdn). None of the artifacts has been recovered. Read more.
Under the elegant, soaring arches of Istanbul’s newly restored, 16th century Süleymaniye Mosque, dozens of security cameras keep an eye on visitors’ every move. Vigilant security guards patrol indoors and out. Turkey, police say, is becoming the epicenter of an international market for stolen Islamic art, and Turkish mosques and museums alike are on high alert.
That means the responsibilities of the imam at Süleymaniye Mosque, widely considered the city’s most magnificent, now include not only looking after the people’s faith, but, increasingly, the valuable contents of the mosque itself.
"We are more comfortable with the presence of the security guards. We feel this place is secure," said Imam Ayhan Mansiz. "Thank God, we didn’t experience any theft. Our mosque is safe. The restoration has just been completed and everything is listed and categorized, and the most valuable items are now in museums." Read more.
With his spectacles, flat cap and neatly trimmed gray beard, the man who walked into the Battles for Chattanooga Museum an hour before closing time could have passed as a high school history teacher doing research.
In fact, the man was a thief, nabbing $7,000 worth of Civil War relics from a display case before walking casually out the door of the Lookout Mountain museum on Dec. 12.
Lookout Mountain police and Greater Chattanooga Crime Stoppers are trying to identify the man, whose theft was clearly caught on a museum security camera.
"We feel like it’s someone who runs in the circles of Civil War enthusiasts — maybe for the wrong reasons. He knows what he’s after and he knows what it’s worth," said Jeff Raabe, director of operations for SRC Inc., which owns the museum. Read more.