According to a recent news release from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) the theft of valuable bronze sculptures from an art museum was solved by a posting on the scrap industries’ online theft alert system.
Over a weekend in mid-January 2011, five bronze art pieces disappeared from the outdoor garden exhibit area of a museum in Montgomery County, Maryland. An employee of ISRI heard news of the theft on a local radio program. That night, ISRI staffers posted an alert for the missing artwork on ScrapTheftAlert.com. The next morning, workers at Montgomery Scrap Corporation saw the posted alert and recognized that the missing pieces had been sold to the scrap yard for $150.
Because the sculptures had been badly damaged by the thieves, who were apparently interested in only the salvage value of the material, the scrappers did not recognize it as artwork. Other news accounts state that the 35-year old sculptures, which weigh about 40 pounds each and are approximately one foot wide and two-and-a-half feet long, are valued by the museum owners at about $90,000.
The recovered pieces were deemed to be damaged beyond repair. However, two suspects have been apprehended by police and charged with the crime.
The ISRI release says that ScrapTheftAlert.com is a free theft notification Web site that enables police to send detailed descriptions of stolen items to recycling operations and other law enforcement within a 100-plus mile radius of a theft. The system also allows scrap processors to alert law enforcement when they are offered suspicious materials at the scrap yard. The system currently has more than 7,000 subscribers. Nearly 2,500 law enforcement professionals in the United States and Canada are registered to use the system.
(*Photo by amorphious)