| 10.7°C Belfast

Stolen Chinese treasures recovered


The scene of a robbery at Durham's Oriental Museum

The scene of a robbery at Durham's Oriental Museum

The scene of a robbery at Durham's Oriental Museum

Police have recovered Chinese treasures worth more than £2 million that were stolen in a well-planned heist earlier this month.

A gang coolly chiselled into Durham University's Oriental Museum through an outside wall on April 5, taking more than half an hour, then took as little as 60 seconds to grab two Chinese artefacts which it is believed were probably stolen to order.

Police said it was almost certainly a well planned operation and the thieves had made off before police alerted by the alarm got to the scene.

Using torches to see, the gang made straight for two separate cabinets containing an 18th century jade bowl and a Dehua porcelain figurine.

Despite making five arrests, Durham Police could not initially find the artefacts and alerted the ports. But a police spokeswoman said: "Both artefacts have been recovered."

The bowl dates from 1769 and has a Chinese poem written inside, while the figurine is of seven fairies in a boat and stands about 12in (30cm) high.

Both are from the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial dynasty, and their total value is estimated by auctioneers at more than £2 million.

A 40-strong team of detectives are looking for two men wanted in connection with the raid. On Wednesday they released photographs of Lee Wildman, also known as Jason or Lee Green, 35, from Remington Road, Walsall, West Midlands, and Adrian Stanton, 32, from West Bromwich Street, also in Walsall.

Lee Wildman was one of five people from the West Midlands who were arrested and bailed pending further inquiries, following the museum raid.