Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum Burglary

18 April 2012, 14:34 | Updated: 18 April 2012, 16:52

A police investigation has started after 'very valuable' Chinese works of art were stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

According to Cambridgeshire Police, a group of people were involved in the break-in at the museum in Trumpington Street at around 7:30pm on Friday 13th April.

18 items in total were taken.

They are mostly jade and part of the museum's permanent collection.

Forensic officers have examined the scene and police are gong through CCTV footage.

Extra police have also been sent to patrol the area of Cambridge around the museum following the burglary.

Detective Chief Superintendent Karen Daber, who is leading the investigation, called Operation Tundra, said: "The items stolen are very valuable and are of great cultural significance so we are absolutely committed to recovering them and bringing those who stole them to justice.

We have a team of detectives working hard to achieve these ends and we are working closely with the Fitzwilliam Museum, which is doing all it can to help our enquiries.

We are following up a number of inquiries but we also need the help of the public and would urge anyone with information that could help our enquiries to call us.

In particular, we are keen to hear from anyone who may have been in or around the Fitzwilliam Museum between 6pm and 8pm and may have heard or seen anything unusual or suspicious.

While this is an exceptional crime, that we are taking very seriously, it is also worth remembering that this type of offence is extremely rare”.

A spokesperson for the Fitzwilliam Museum said: "These works are a highly important part of our collection and their loss is a great blow.

We are working closely with the police to aid in their recovery. 

A thorough review of our security measures is also underway. 

We urge anyone with information that could help the enquiry to come forward."

It is the policy of the Fitzwilliam Museum not to release the value of the stolen items.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

Information can also be reported by email at:

Click here to see pictures of the stolen artefacts.

A full list of the items stolen is:

1. Table screen, Qianlong Period, late 18th century, jade carved relief on both sides

2. Brush washer, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, jade carved in high relief.

3. Incense burner or flower perfumer, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, jade carved with openwork.

4. Jug, 18th century, jade, decorated with a band of archaistic bronze motif around the neck.

5. Incense burner or flower perfumer, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, Jasper, carved drilled openwork, decorated with two tao-tie on the body and cover.

6. Vase, 18th century, jade, carved with peonies and rock on one side and plum flower and daffodils on the other.

7. Recumbent buffalo, Ming Dynasty, 16th century, jade, celadon green, carved.

8. Imaginary beast, late Ming or early Qing Dynasty, 17th century, jade, carved.

9. Bowl of trefoil form, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, lapis lazuli, raised moulded bands and pierced handles.

10. Bowl, Qing Dynasty, 17th century, chalcedony, translucent.

11. Sleeping elephant, Ming Dynasty, jade boulder of green and brown, carved in the shape of a sleeping elephant.

12. Recumbent horse, Ming Dynasty, 17th century, jade, carved.

13. Jade vase, Qing Dynasty, late 18th century, spinach-green jade carved as a vase of archaic form with openwork chains, at the foot of which stands a quail surrounded by rice grains.

14. Jade lion, Qing Dynasty, 19th century, greyish jade with dark grey and black streaks, carved as a horned lion.

15. Jade cup, Ming Dynasty, late 14th/early 15th century, ling grass green jade cup with brown areas, carved with fluted and lobed sides with two handles, resting on a short straight foot.

16. Jade cup, Qing Dynasty, translucent spinach jade with some dark green speckling, hollowed and carved with a chrysanthemum foot.

17. Archaistic jade vase, Ming Dynasty, late 14th/early 15th century, mottled greenish-grey jade, engraved and carved in low relief with archaic bronze designs, two dragon-head handles.

18. Brush washer, Ming Dynasty, late 14th/early 15th century, opaque celadon jade, well hollowed and carved with prunus blossoms.