Christ Church Gallery theft: Police suspect boat getaway after £10m art raid

Thames Valley Police are appealing for information after a trio of paintings was stolen, and they suspect the crooks used a boat to escape

Forget the great train robbery, could this be the great boat robbery? That’s one of the lines of enquiry Thames Valley Police are pursuing after three “high-value paintings” were stolen from the Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford at around 2300 on Saturday (March 14).

The works, ‘A Rocky Coast, with Soldiers Studying a Plan’ by Salvator Rosa, ‘A Soldier on Horseback’ by Antony Van Dyck and ‘A Boy Drinking’ by Annibale Carracci are all more than 350 years old and have a combined value of around £10m, according to The Times.

In a statement issued today, investigating officer Detective Inspector James Mather, said: “This is just a hypothesis at this time, but we would like to hear from anyone who has had their boat stolen recently or has noticed any unusual activity around where their boats are docked.

“We are initially asking people with boats based on the River Cherwell or the River Thames near Oxford to get in touch if you have noticed any unusual activity. If you saw anything unusual on these rivers on Saturday night, we would also ask you to get in touch. Also, please make a report if you find any abandoned boats which have appeared since the early hours of Sunday morning.”

Christ Church Picture Gallery is more than 600m from the nearest slipway at Magdalen Bridge on the River Cherwell, so if a boat was used to escape that would only have been part of the getaway plan.

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Anyone with any information that could help is encouraged to call 101 or file an online report quoting the reference number 43200087031. Anonymous tips can be called in via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A Christ Church College spokesman told the BBC that staff had initially alerted police to the theft of the “important cultural artefacts”, and added that the gallery would be closed until further notice.


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