Taxi Cabs: perfect getaway vehicles for art heists?
During a raid in Sweden in October, police discovered three paintings. The paintings were wrapped in plastic bags and labeled “Malmö Art Museum.” This was strange, because no thefts had been reported by the museum. It was even more strange because the paintings, one by Edward Munch, are rather valuable.
The raid was part of a police investigation into a case concerning credit card fraud in the taxi sector. The taxi sector seems an unlikely group for sophisticated art heists, but this is not so unusual.
“In my experience, unlicensed taxi services (sometimes referred to as mini-cabs) have frequently been involved in criminal groups, committing such crimes as burglary, fraud and local drug distribution,” Richard Ellis, former Director of Scotland Yard’s Arts & Antiquities Unit, told the Association for Research into Crimes against Art.
However, the taxi thieves in this case may not have had the ability to capitalize on the value of these works. “It is this ability in knowing how to dispose of stolen art that sets an art thief apart from other criminals,” said Mr. Ellis.
Whether or not the criminals knew how to dispose of the works, it is still quite impressive that they managed to steal the works without anybody noticing.