Art heist museum says system in order
ROTTERDAM - Reuters
Police examine the crime scene at the Rotterdam Kunsthal, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In the night of 15-16 October a number of paintings has been stolen from the museum. The Police has not identified them. EPA photoThe Dutch art gallery at the centre of an audacious heist last week said that the electronic locks on its doors were disarmed before thieves made off with paintings by Picasso, Monet and others worth tens of millions of dollars.
The seven stolen works - which also include a Gauguin, a Lucian Freud and a Meyer de Haan - were on loan from a private collection for a special exhibition at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal of impressionism, expressionism, and other modern art movements. The theft was one of the art world’s most dramatic in recent years, and one of the biggest in the Netherlands.
The apparent ease with which the thieves entered and escaped has raised questions about the Kunsthal’s security system and whether an insider was involved.
The Kunsthal said in a statement on Oct 22 that the electronic locks on its doors were in working order, but were designed to automatically unbolt shortly after the burglar alarm was set off. After that, only mechanical door locks stood between the intruders and the Kunsthal’s treasures.
“The theft on Oct 22 night suggests the intruders forced the lock after the unbolting, presumably quickly,” the statement said.
The thieves forced the mechanical lock on an emergency exit at the rear of the ground floor gallery. Police arrived at the scene within five minutes, but the intruders had already gone.
Defending its security installation in the face of speculation, the gallery said an independent inspection of its security apparatus in August had found only that one motion detector was blocked off. It had been immediately repaired.