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History is at risk of being lost forever amid surge in heritage crime

History is at risk of being lost forever amid a wave of heritage crime with rising numbers of churches and historic sites targeted by thieves, police chief warns

  • Heritage crime police chief warns ‘antipathy’ endangers artifacts
  • Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan is the national leader on heritage crime
  • She addressed the plight of churches and other historic buildings, stripped of items
  • It comes amid declining attendance at churches and less interest in heritage sites

‘Antipathy’ to Britain’s past is endangering some of its priceless historical artifacts, a police chief warned.

Essex Police Assistant Chief Constable, Rachel Nolan, took charge of the National Police on Heritage Crime two years ago and is calling for greater awareness of the issue.

Thieves are increasingly targeting churches and other monumental buildings to loot valuables.

It comes amid declining congregations in churches, leaving them vulnerable to repairs and less interest in heritage sites.

A boom in metal detection also leads to fears that some objects of historical value are being sold and melted down without their discovery ever being recorded. The Telegraph reports.

Essex Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan took charge of the National Police on Heritage Crime two years ago and calls for increased awareness of the issue

Essex Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan took charge of the National Police on Heritage Crime two years ago and calls for increased awareness of the issue

The rosary (pictured) used by Mary, Queen of Scots before her death, was stolen from Arundel Castle in West Sussex, melted down and later sold for scrap

The rosary (pictured) used by Mary, Queen of Scots before her death, was stolen from Arundel Castle in West Sussex, melted down and later sold for scrap

Ms Nolan said armed forces often receive little information about crimes against monuments and listed buildings compared to other offences.

“Normally, even for antisocial behavior on a street corner, the information we receive will come from three, four or five different sources, if not more,” she said.

‘Often information about heritage crime only comes from one side, one person, which is quite unusual.’

Ms. Nolan became interested in the matter after a historic site near her home was targeted by burglars.

“I think in heritage crime you have to remember that some of the things that are targeted are literally priceless,” she said.

The Penicuik jewels, another adornment that once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots, is safely stored in National Museums Scotland

The Penicuik jewels, another adornment that once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots, is safely stored in National Museums Scotland

‘There was a rosary which Mary, Queen of Scots, had used before her death and it was collected (from Arundel Castle in West Sussex), melted down and sold for scrap

“That’s such an important part of our history, that’s what brought us here today that we literally won’t come back.”

“I think we shouldn’t necessarily judge the individual objects, but see how we can protect them and keep the stories of the land alive.”

Ms Nolan adds that one of the biggest barriers to preserving the country’s history is the public’s “antipathy.”

She also questioned whether her work would be criticized in light of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, which led to vandalism and removal of some monuments.

“Interestingly, I’ve had nothing negative to say about the work we do, because I think we’re impartial — we don’t necessarily judge the origin (of the heritage).”

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