Thieves ransack stores of Canterbury Archaeological Trust

Thieves have broken into the Kingsmead stores of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and made off with coins, metal artifacts, bone artifacts, tools and more than 850 Anglo-Saxon beads. They ransacked the storage warehouse, leaving it a shambles and making it hard for the Trust’s staff to sort out exactly what was stolen. A conservative estimate is at least 1,500 pieces. It was not a one-time deal. They broke in four times at the end of January, on January 18th, the night of the 22nd-23rd, then on the 23rd and 24th. They went so far as to cut a hole in the side of the building and yank out copper wiring from the walls.

It would serve them right if they were panting with exertion when they broke through that wall, because what they didn’t know is the exterior wall they broke through contained asbestos. I hope they inhaled deeply. Sorry not sorry. The disturbance of old asbestos only adds to the Trust’s burdens in recovering from the mess the thieves left behind, unfortunately, on top of all the other work that needs to be done. Only expensive hazmat abatement specialized are equipped to handle asbestos removal, and they don’t come cheap. Neither do plumbers and electrician, and that hole in the wall cut through electric and water pipes as well.

[T]he attacks in Canterbury appear to have purely financial motives. The two thieves also stole copper cables from the building during the burglaries and one of the men was caught on camera stealing beer from a local shop. […]

“The combs are so fragile that in their hands they will disintegrate,” added [Trust director Paul] Bennett.

“They may end up on eBay or car boot sales for pennies whereas their real place is in a museum. They are our legacy for future generations.

“These two people have been allowed to run rampant and steal our material. They are a couple of low lives who live locals. They must have a huge swag bag.

“It is the heritage of Canterbury trampled and trodden on by a pair of thieves. We have been caught up in a whirlwind of thievery.”

A supporter has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help defray the costs of dealing with the break-in. It has a £1,000 goal, which while modest will contribute meaningfully to the expense of added security, personnel time and repairs. It’s about a third of the way to goal after one day.

CAT is asking collectors and enthusiasts who know their coins and beads to keep a sharp eye open on eBay and other sites where the looted objects might be offered for sale, also to share the Facebook post to get the word out as far as possible about the theft. CAT staff are updating a photo album with pictures of the stolen objects as they figure out what’s gone. That will give you an idea of what to look for on sites like eBay that don’t ask too many inconvenient (or any) questions about the source of the antiquities up for bid.

9 thoughts on “Thieves ransack stores of Canterbury Archaeological Trust

  1. Heads on Poles or local (re)entrepreneurs? 😮

    How do they know there were exactly two malefactors ? Anyhow, this seems like sheer idiocy to me. Even if possibly idiotic and possibly misleading insinuations are likewise not without problems. The culprits seem to have had (a) ruthlessness, (b) simple mindedness, (c) knowledge of the place, (d) a place to stay in between actions, (c) manual labor skills (construction business?), (d) professional equipment, (e) a certain tendency to alcoholic beverage and possibly (f) face masks against asbestos and dusts.

    It might be fair to assume that there were either a bunch of village idiots at work -or- manual laborers from Eastern Europe. If so, in case the stuff wont pop up on ebay, the best place to look might be archaeological thrift shops in France or -more likely- Belgium. In Brussels for example, there is an all-day flea- and thrift market, and in the vicinity a couple of thrift stores. In one of them they had archaeological oddities (fakes?) of all kinds. Of course, I did not buy anything nor did I intended to, and proveniences might have been shaky.


  2. Asbestosis would work for perp punishment purposes, but then some permissive court would rule they were entitled to free medical care. Damnatio ad bestias is, regretfully, no longer legal. Animal rights groups would have a problem with that as well.

  3. Graag gedaan!, Cor – Note that it is not the UK that I am in, and of course there is no “race” for “idiots” nor is there one for Belgians or Poles.

    Track them down, and only if you feel like, tell me who they are, but frankly I won’t personally care – i.e. as long as you really do track them down.


    Just in case: What would be your “village” ?

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