How to find a stolen Van Gogh

As I posted last week, thieves smashed a glass door at the Singer Laren museum near Amsterdam and stole Vincent van Gogh's oil painting “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884." The museum has been closed due to COVID-19.

“I am shocked and unbelievably pissed off,” said Singer Laren’s director, Jan Rudolph de Lorn. “Art is there to be seen and shared by all, for society as a whole, to bring enjoyment, to bring inspiration, and also to bring comfort. Especially in this difficult time.”

Esquire's Daniel Dumas interviewed Art Recovery International CEO Christopher Marinello and Jordan Arnold, art risk advisor of security firm K2 Intelligence, about who might buy such a thing and the chances of finding it. From Esquire:

If smugglers do manage to sneak the painting out of the Netherlands, it could literally end up anywhere on the planet. But there are a few areas in the world that, according to Marinello, “are friendlier to acquiring stolen objects.” Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Quebec all have laws that favor those in possession of property even if the path of ownership is murky.

Some wealthy collectors exist in China and the Middle East who are ethically challenged when it comes to getting a good deal,” Marinello says. Then there’s Russia where many oligarchs have adopted a “come and take it” attitude if accused of possessing stolen property. “I have a number of cases pending with high value works looted by the Nazis being held in Russia,” Marinello says.

Read the rest

Watch a suspected thief instantly discouraged by a fun DIY crime deterrent

Katie and Josh Camarena of Portervilla, California came up an excellent theft deterrent during a rash of crime in their neighborhood. From LADbible:

In a post on Facebook, she explained: "We have been having issues with people coming into our neighborhood to try and steal tools out of vehicles (And anything else they can get their hands on).

"Our flood light didn't seem to scare them off, so we decided to have a little fun with a motion activated sprinkler that has an impressive amount of pressure." Read the rest

Cops ask hearse thieves: please return the body in the casket, at least

"To the suspect(s) driving around in a Black Lincoln Navigator stolen from the 700 blk of Rosemead Bl just after 8PM today in uninc #Pasadena: Out of all the bad decisions you have made, at least make one good one & bring back the deceased person & casket inside the Navigator," tweeted the LA County Sheriff's department last night.

The suspects have not been identified and are still at large.

Image by Michael Kauer from Pixabay Read the rest

A motorcycle alarm that goes off when someone attempts to remove your cover

I use a Dowco cover on my treasured bike. I decided to try their easy to integrate motorcycle cover alarm.

The Dowco Weatherall guardian cover survives in marine environments. I live in a densely populated beach community wherein an alarm is probably not a bad idea. This one is simple, loud and will probably surprise the shit out of anyone who decides to move my cover around.

A simple pin plugged into the top of the alarm completes a circuit. The pin is connected to a swivel clip that you attach to your bike. The alarm fits in a Dowco integrated pocket, or simply clips to your cover. The lanyard between the two is fairly short and when the pin pops a lot of noise happens.

A calm and controlled robber will smash the alarm fairly quickly. The wind may blow a loose cover enough to set the alarm off. Under normal circumstances, however, I think adding this alarm to my cover is better than not having it there.

I can not wait until I have forgotten it is there and set off the alarm in my face.

Dowco Guardian 26038-00 Integrated Motorcycle Cover Security Alarm System/Theft Deterrent via Amazon Read the rest

Woman busted for allegedly running "the QVC of stolen clothes"

Accused professional shoplifter Twanna Trotter, 29, of East St. Louis, Illinois, was allegedly running an online clothing store out of her basement that was stocked with $20,000 in stolen merchandise. On Friday, she was sentenced to four years in the slammer for retail thefts along the Missouri-Illinois border. According to police still investigating the extent of her operation, Trotter used Facebook Live videos to market her hot commodities.

"I describe it as the QVC of stolen clothes. I mean, she had things set up and things she was planning on selling that day," (said Chesterfield Police Department Sgt. Keith Rider.)

From WHNT:

Rider said his detectives would actually watch Trotter's Facebook Live sessions to see what she was selling.

"The products that they observed she was selling we were able to track back to ... retail areas in Chesterfield as well as throughout St. Louis County, and also as far as Osage Beach," he said.

Rider said Trotter has a history of arrests in Chesterfield for retail thefts. Rider referred to her as a "professional shoplifter" who treated the crimes as a business.

(via FARK)

image: @ChesterfieldPD/Twitter Read the rest

Technology company co-founder reports car stolen to avoid mechanic's bill

Rather than pay a large repair bill, a gentleman the Marin Independent Journal identified as "the co-founder of a San Francisco technology security firm" apparently reported the car stolen and received a nice insurance payout.

...and then the police found the car.

Marin IJ:

“Dhoopar told the CHP and his insurance company that the car was stolen off his street,” Petersen said, “when in fact it had been reported stolen shortly after Dhoopar learned of a large repair bill that he would be receiving from the mechanic.”

The insurer paid Dhoopar about $8,200, the full value of the car.

Investigators arranged a meeting with Dhoopar on Tuesday in Corte Madera, presented him with the evidence and made the arrest.

Dhoopar, the cofounder of a San Francisco technology security firm, could not be reached for comment.

Read the rest

Newton's Principia Mathematica, George Washington's journal: archivist stole $8m worth of rare books from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library

Gregory Priore -- former archivist for Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library -- has pleaded guilty of stealing $8m worth of rare texts from the collection over a 25 year period, fencing them through John Schulman's Caliban Book Shop (Schulman has also pleaded guilty, and admitted to forgery as well). Read the rest

Mystery of the vanishing bird seed solved

The bird seed in our feeder began disappearing overnight, no matter how full it was. I set up an infrared camera to see what was devouring so much seed in such a short amount of time. Here are the culprits! Read the rest

Tip: Don't shoplift when store is holding 'Shop With A Cop' event

In Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Walmart was hosting a "shop with a cop" event where police officers take young people from low-income backgrounds on shopping sprees to buy gifts for their families. According to PA State Police Troop B, that was probably not the best day for Sunny Ray Firestone, 32, to "try and walk out of the store with a shopping cart full of merchandise that you did not pay for."

From KDKA:

According to a complaint Firestone told police her sick mother needed new clothes

Firestone has a history of retail theft.

Read the rest

Porch thief collared

Since it turned out the glitter bomb bait box was a hoax, I've finally accepted that nothing online is real. But this sure does look like a video of a porch pirate getting his ass ran down and beaten, complete with comical running back and forth, all set to the Benny Hill theme tune. Read the rest

Porch pirates sprayed with glitter and fart smell after opening fake package booby traps

We've all seen the videos of thieves shamelessly stealing packages off of people's porches. Now someone is fighting back. Read the rest

Cops are using GPS and doorbell cameras to catch package thieves

People who steal other people's packages off porches are the frigging worst. They've no idea of what's in the box they're swiping: they don't care what they get, so long as they get something. It's burgling a house blindfolded. It's the laziest form of break and enter. It's one of the lowest forms of causal criminality going. Also, it's wicked hard to stop. With the holidays coming on like a freight train, more packages than usual are showing up on front porches, ripe for the picking. This year, in at least one city, the cops are ready to put a stop to the package poaching nonsense.

From The Associated Press:

Police in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from New York, are teaming up with Amazon to install doorbell cameras and plant dummy boxes with GPS tracking devices at homes around the city.

They didn’t have to wait long Tuesday for someone to take the bait.

“We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,” said police Capt. James Crecco, who is overseeing the mission. “We thought it was a mistake at first.”

The suspect was caught, Crecco added.

Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly told The Associated Press that locations for cameras and boxes were selected using the city’s own crime statistics and mapping of theft locations provided by Amazon.

“Most of the package thefts we’ve made arrests on revolve around (closed-circuit TV) or private surveillance cameras that give us a still image,” Kelly said.

Read the rest

Former military contractor found guilty of stealing U.S. Navy drone secrets

It’s raining military secrets!

Earlier this week, it was revealed that a group of hackers got their meathooks on an operator manual for the United States military’s MQ-9 Reaper UAV. The manual was fair game: a U.S. Air Force captain had it stashed away on his under-protected home network—you know, as one does with sensitive documents that could fuck with national security. My guess is that the captain wasn’t aware of the case against military contractor Jared Sparks. The company Sparks was employed by was developing an underwater drone for the U.S. Navy. While he was drawing a paycheck from them Sparks decided it’d be cool to upload scads of documents that detailed trade secrets to his personal Dropbox account.

The Navy, Sparks’ former employers and the U.S. Department of Justice? They weren’t really comfortable with that. Today, the Department of Justice announced that a federal jury has found Sparks guilty of multiple counts of the theft and of uploading of trade secrets, with each count carrying a penalty that could land Sparks in the clink for a decade.

From Gizmodo:

Sparks used to work for LBI Inc., a Connecticut-based defense contractor that makes underwater drones for the U.S. Navy, as well as weather data-gathering buoys for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While at that company, he collaborated with Charles River Analytics (CRA), a company that made software for the LBI drones. Sparks was eventually hired by CRA in January 2012, but before he switched jobs, he saved sensitive company and military information—including renderings and design photos of LBI drones and buoys—onto the cloud-storage service Dropbox, according to DOJ.

Read the rest

Stolen antiquities returned from Hobby Lobby President's loot cache

Hobby Lobby's President Steve Green was part of a conspiracy to steal a lot of irreplaceable antiquities. The stolen artifacts have now been returned to the Iraqi Government. Mr. Green is suffering as a devout Christian does, before his God and no one else.

Via CBS:

Thousands of ancient clay tablets, seals and other Iraqi archaeological objects that were smuggled into the U.S. and shipped to the head of arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby were returned to the Iraqi government on Wednesday.

The Oklahoma City-based private company, whose devout Christian owners won a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling exempting them from providing certain contraceptive coverage for employees, agreed to pay a $3 million fine last year to settle a lawsuit over the company's role in the smuggling of the artifacts, which authorities say were looted from the war-torn country.

Prosecutors say Steve Green, the president of the $4 billion company, agreed to buy more than 5,500 artifacts in 2010 for $1.6 million in a scheme that involved a number of middlemen and the use of phony or misleading invoices, shipping labels and other paperwork to slip the artifacts past U.S. customs agents.

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Stolen Department of Revenue hard drives used for storing Xbox games

A few weeks back, a number of external hard drives full of state taxpayer information were poached from the offices of Florida's Department of Revenue. Why these drives full of sensitive data were left out in the open where anyone could walk with one is a question I'm betting there's a really entertaining answer to. Maybe we'll get to hear it someday. In the meantime, here we go: the drives have been recovered and the criminal mastermind behind the theft was a janitor that wanted more storage in which to download Xbox games.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida man (of course) Andru Rae’sion Reed was cleaning the offices of the Florida Department of Revenue when he saw the hard drives and decided to take it upon himself to liberate them from the day-to-day drudgery of storing a whack of taxpayer information. As he took them to their new forever home, Reed promised the hard drives that they could spend their days chewing on game files while they were attached to his Xbox.

On March 30, FDLE agents dropped by Reed's home to see how he was doing and see if he, I don't know, knew anything about the missing hard drives. Reed came clean on the fact that he did indeed have the drives, stating that he had no idea of what was on them. From what the FDLE has to say, it doesn't look like any of the taxpayer information on the drives was shared by Reed, but they're going to do a little more digital digging, just to make sure. Read the rest

Engineers tackling "porch pirate" package pilfering problem

Tens of millions of Americans have had packages stolen from their porches and mailboxes. Now major online retailers are looking at novel ways to deliver packages to car trunks, lockboxes, and even inside locked homes. Read the rest

Justice Department sues Hobby Lobby over thousands of looted Iraqi artifacts it bought

According to a lawsuit (PDF) filed Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice, craft retailer Hobby Lobby illegally imported thousands of Iraqi artifacts, intentionally mislabeled them and lied about their origins.

Though a consultant to the company estimated the artifacts' value at $11,820,000, an invoice shows Hobby Lobby paid $1,600,000 for them in deals with the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Shipment of these artifacts, which were labeled “ceramics” and “samples,” totaled more than $2,000 and thus require formal entry. Hobby Lobby continued with the deal even though an expert advised the company the artifacts were likely looted and carried "considerable risk." Hobby Lobby did not attempt verify the legal custodian or origin of 5,513 of the artifacts at any point, according to the suit.

NBC News reports that Hobby Lobby has agreed to return its stolen loot.

In a statement, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green acknowledged "regrettable mistakes" that he chalked up to inexperience.

"We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled," Green said, adding that the firm fully cooperated with the investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Hobby Lobby markets itself as a Christian company and famously took the government to court to secure a religious exemption from providing insurance plans that covered birth control.

Read the rest

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