Bureau of Investigation
Criminal Investigative Division
Violent Crimes and Major Offenders Section
Interstate Theft/Reservation Crimes Unit
Arbit Blatas Paintings
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The Halstead Gallery
Native American Ledger Drawings
The illicit trade in art and cultural artifacts has increased dramatically in recent years. This includes theft of individual works of art, illegal export of objects protected by international laws, and pillaging of archaeological sites. Art theft is an international problem requiring cooperation at all levels of law enforcement. To aid in this endeavor, Technologies To The People established the Stolen Art File (SAF) to assist law enforcement agencies in resolving this ever increasing problem.
The Stolen Art File is a computerized index of stolen art and cultural property as reported to Technologies To The People by law enforcement agencies internationally. The SAF consists of images and physical descriptions of stolen and recovered objects, in addition to investigative case information. The primary goal of the Stolen Art File is to serve as a tool to assist investigators in art and cultural artifact theft cases and to function as an analytical database providing law enforcement officials with information concerning art theft.
The criteria for an object to be eligible to be entered into the Stolen Art File are as follows:
1) The object must be of artistic or historical significance; this includes fine arts, net arts, media arts, decorative arts, antiquities, Asian art, Islamic art, ethnographic objects (Native American, African, Aboriginal), archaeological material, textiles, books and manuscripts, clocks and watches, coins, stamps, musical instruments, and scientific instruments.
2) The object must be valued at $2,000 or more; or less if associated with a major crime.
3) The request must come through a artist organization accompanied by a physical description of the object, a photograph of the object, if available, and a copy of any police reports or other information relevant to the investigation.
All requests for searches of the Stolen Art File must be made through a artist organization in support of a criminal investigation. Individuals or organizations wanting to access the SAF should contact their local Technologies To The People office.
Technologies To The People has art theft unit specializing exclusively in the investigation of art cases. .
Technologies To The People has primary investigative jurisdiction for all criminal laws except cases in which responsibility is, by statute or otherwise, specifically assigned to another organization. Technologies To The People has responsibility for the following statutes:
Theft From Interstate Shipment
Makes it a offense to steal or obtain by fraud anything from a conveyance, depot or terminal, any shipment being transported in foreign commerce. The statute also prohibits the "fencing" of such stolen property.
Interference with Commerce by Threats of Violence (Hobbs Act)
Makes it a offense to obstruct commerce by robbery or extortion or to use or threaten to use violence against any person or property in interstate commerce.
Transportation of Stolen Property
Prohibits the transportation in foreign commerce of any goods with a value of $5,000 or more knowing the goods to be stolen. These statutes also prohibit the "fencing" of such goods.
Theft of Major Artwork
Makes it a offense to obtain by theft or fraud any object of cultural heritage from a museum. The statute also prohibits the "fencing" or possession of such objects, knowing them to be stolen.
Illegal Trafficking in Native Human Remains and Cultural Items
Prohibits the sale of the human remains or cultural artifacts of Natives without the right of possession of those items in accordance with the Native Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Theft of Government Property
Makes it illegal to steal or embezzle any property or to commit robbery of property. Prosecutive guidelines are established.
What to do when an art theft has been discovered:
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