England

Museum raids: Thirteen face trial over 'high-value' thefts

Police raiding homes at Smithy Fen in Cambridgeshire Image copyright Pool photos
Image caption Officers from 26 forces took part in raids in September 2013

Thirteen men accused of stealing "high-value" items such as jade and rhino horn from museums and auction houses in England, will stand trial next year.

Officers from 26 forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) made arrests in raids in September 2013.

The men charged are from London, Cambridgeshire, the West Midlands, Essex and Northern Ireland.

All are charged with conspiracy to steal relating to thefts in Durham, Norwich, Cambridge, Kent and Sussex.

Officers carried out 40 co-ordinated raids in September in connection with a series of crimes, including the theft of Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn over a four-month period in 2012.

There were two thefts and an attempted theft at Durham University Oriental Museum as well as further incidents at Gorringes Auction House in Lewes, East Sussex; Norwich Castle Museum, the Powell Cotton Museum near Margate, Kent, and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, police said.

The defendants did not enter a plea when they appeared at Birmingham Crown Court earlier.

A trial, expected to last up to six weeks, has been provisionally set for 27 April, 2015.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Items from various Chinese dynasties were taken in Cambridge in April 2012

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