According to police, the theft of works of art and antiques in the UK is now running at more than £300m a year, second only to the proceeds of crime from drug dealing. Most of these stolen goods are shipped abroad to be sold to dealers and collectors. One of the many problems with the European Union is that foreign criminals are free to come and go as they please, taking their loot with them. The Art Loss Register says that since 1991 about 60,000 items of art, antiques or collectables have been reported as lost, stolen or looted from the UK. Police are also concerned at the rising level of violence associated with these thefts. Shown is the medieval Wenlok Jug
, stolen last year from the Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton. It is one of only four known in the world and is worth £750,000. Police recovered the damaged jug and collared the fence. He received a piddling two-year prison sentence for handling stolen goods! It should have been a lot more. This is British heritage that is being plundered. On Monday, a taskforce led by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) will unveil its proposals to tackle this growing problem (CLICK
). An increase in prison sentences for fences dealing in heritage items should be top of ACPO's list.