Law-Enforcement Agencies, page 2 of 2

Antique and archaeological objects illegally imported from Ghana, seized by Dutch customs in December 1994 (photograph copyright Jos van Beurden).

Questionnaire Survey of
Law-Enforcement Agencies and
Commercial Art Theft Databases

The findings of the questionnaire survey include responses from law-enforcement agencies in 17 countries; the results of a workshop held at the 1996 Investigation of Stolen Fine Art and Antiques Seminar (Hampshire Constabulary Training Headquarters, Hamble, U.K.) attended by art and antiques officers from the United Kingdom, Ireland, The Netherlands, and Norway; and the contributions of the two leading commercial art theft databases—Art Loss Register and Trace/Thesaurus—both of which played an active part in discussions with law-enforcement organizations as well as other key communities.14

Between 81 and 96 percent of these respondents approved all the Object ID categories. The only categories not selected for inclusion in Object ID which scored more than 80 percent were Object ID Number (89%) and Object Name (81%).

Law-enforcement agencies are looking to the Internet as a means of distributing information about stolen art and antiques. The Internet is already part of the public face of a number of law-enforcement agencies. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are among those agencies that now have Web sites
(reproduced by courtesy of Cultural Property Desk, Interpol Ottawa).
Table 5. Summary of Findings of Questionnaire Survey of Law-Enforcement Agencies and Commercial Art Theft Databases
Category of Information Percentage

Photographs 96
Type of Object 96
Inscriptions & Markings 96
Distinguishing Features 95
Title 94
Description 94
Subject 94

Measurements 89
Object ID Number 89
Maker 87
Date or Period 85
Materials & Techniques 81
Object Name 81

Cross Reference to Related Objects 79
Place of Origin/Discovery 74

Related Written Material 68
Date Documented 66
Estimated Value 66
Normal Location of Object 66
Condition of Object 66
Legal Status of Object 62
Recorder's Name 60

Custodian of Object 57

Acquisition 47

Object ID categories are in bold.



14 The purpose of the annual Fine Art and Antiques Seminar is "to provide Officers with some knowledge of how to describe Art and Antiques and to whom details of stolen items should be circulated, within the Police Service and the Antiques Trade. . . .It is hoped that this will enable Officers to obtain better descriptions of this type of property, lead to closer co-operation and exchange of intelligence between Forces and improved liaison with the Antiques Trade." Course handbook for the Investigation of Stolen Fine Art and Antiques Seminar, Hampshire Constabulary Southern Support and Training Headquarters, Hamble (U.K.), 1996.


Protecting Cultural Objects in the Global Information Society — Copyright 1997 The J. Paul Getty Trust