|Some of the recovered objects from Olympia|
In February of this year armed men stole 80 small objects from a museum in Olympia dedicated to the Olympic games. They were armed, were able to overcome a lone security guard, and smashed the display cabinets and stole close to 80 small objects. At the time there was speculation by the Mayor of Olympia and others that Greek austerity measures had led to diminished security, making the theft easier to execute. After an undercover operation with an officer posing as a buyer, all of the objects have been recovered, most of them buried in a field only 3 km from the museum.
Given such a high-profile theft, in an olympic year, it is safe to assume that Greek authorities made recovering these stolen objects a high priority. A task which at the time was seemingly more difficult as there was speculation that these small, portable objects would have been easily shipped abroad or smuggled across the Adriatic to organized criminal networks in the Balkans. But it seems the objects did not make it far away from Olympia.
On Sunday authorities in Greece announced three Greek men were arrested in the city of Patra after an undercover officer posing as a potential buyer was offered one of the highlights of the theft, a Bronze Age gold ring. The remaining objects were found in a field near Olympia, where they had been buried inside a sack. So congratulations are in order for Greek law enforcement. And given the context of the theft, it is noteworthy that the Greek Public Order MInister Nikos Dendias told reporters on Sunday that “Despite the difficult economic situation we are not being lax on security issues, especially over our cultural heritage.”
Here is some video of the press conference and the recovered objects from Al Jazeera:
- Greek police recover stolen Olympia artefacts, , http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2012/11/2012112582211277291.html (last visited Nov 26, 2012).
- Greek police recover stolen Olympia artefacts, arrest three, Reuters, November 24, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/24/us-greece-olympia-idUSBRE8AN08H20121124 (last visited Nov 26, 2012).