Arts, antiques and valuable items

Thousands of items of stolen property are found by the police every year.  Often there is no way of knowing who the owners are.  A few simple measures can help your chances of recovering lost or stolen art and antiques.

  1. Take photographs of your valuables and store them somewhere safe. Take a variety of shots, close -up and long distance, and, if possible:-
    • Show the object's size and dimensions by placing a ruler next to small items, or write down the measurement.
    • Show distinguishing marks, repair marks or hallmarks.
    • Show the back and front of paintings.
    • Don't use flash if you can help it. Good natural daylight is best. If you have to use a flash, try to avoid reflections.
  2. Make a record of your objects and try to keep your description to the "Object I.D." format recognised throughout the art world.  This should include:
    • Type of object - painting, sculpture, clock, watch.
    • Materials and techniques - brass, wood, oil, carved, cast, etched.
    • Measurements - size and weight.
    • Inscriptions and markings - signature, dedication, title, and purity mark.
    • Distinguishing features - damage, repairs, manufacturing defects.
    • Title - name of painting or sculpture.
    • Subject - what is pictured or represented.
    • Maker - an individual, company or artistic group.
    • Date of period of the maker or artist - art deco, contemporary etc.
  3. Keep this documentation secure.  Do not keep it in anything that might be a target for thieves.  Secure physical documents in a safe (see below) or store electronic copies of documents and photographs online.

Property marking and registration

Before you mark any piece of art or an antique, seek the advice of a conservationist.  Some marking methods can cause damage and reduce its value. For a small fee, the Conservation Register provides information on studios and workshops throughout the UK.

We recommend registering all art and antiques with a specialist art registration organisation.

The Art Loss Register


For occasional jewellery, sentimental items, photographs and documents, consider using a safe.

    • Whilst no safe is totally secure, the heavier the safe, the less likely it is to be removed or broken into.
    • Floor mounted safes have smaller capacities but can be useful for storing documents.  If using, ensure that they are well hidden.
    • Avoid using small safes with digital locks.
    • Seek the advice and use the services of a member of the Master Locksmiths Association when choosing a safe. Visit
    • A valuable object is not just one of financial worth.  Record items that have sentimental value to you as well.

Don't get caught out buying stolen goods

If you have any reason to believe an item may be stolen, contact the police on 101 or, in an emergency, dial 999.

    • Be suspicious of any item where the asking price does not equate to its market value.
    • Check the identity and address of the seller and record the details.
    • Check with a relevant stolen property register such as The Art Loss Register.  For a fee, they will check their records. If you are still uncertain refuse to buy it.
    • If you spot your stolen property on sale, contact us immediately.  Wait for an officer to attend before confronting the dealer.

Report it

If you have been a victim of a burglary or theft, call 101 or report it online.

If a burglary is in progress and you are in immediate danger, call 999.

More help and support

For further advice or recommendations, contact our Crime Prevention Advisors

This contact is for crime prevention advice only.  Please do not use this email address to report crime.  Call 101, or 999 in an emergency. 

Conversation Register

Art Loss Register

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Master Locksmiths Association

24 May 21 2:09 PM

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