UK Heritage Laws
This Friday ARCA reviews one of the few successful cases of prosecution using the UK’s Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act of 2003.
Christopher Cooper was an unemployed, amateur antique dealer in the United Kingdom, who is known to have targeted unsecured places of worship, stealing a range of ecclesiastic objects, including bibles, crucifixes, Anglo Saxon carvings and even the top and bottom of a stone coffin from St Mary’s Church in Foy in Herefordshire – a heavy relic he pilfered over the course of two separate raids, as the first went unnoticed.
In addition to stealing from vulnerable religious institutions, Cooper was discovered to have manufactured his own “antiques,” passing them off to his customers as genuine, often defaced as historic relics. Some of the objects he was charged with selling included historic religious statues, stained glass, stone coffins, crosses, baptismal font plugs, and rare bibles.
Over the course of his three-year crime spree, it was reported that Cooper pocketed from up to £150,000 from the proceeds of his criminal activity, brokering the sale of stolen objects via at least two purportedly unsuspecting individuals, whom he never met face-to-face, as he used a third party for the delivery of the pieces to maintain some semblance of distance from their apparent sale.