An armed duo stole millions of dollars worth of art in a daring hi-tech heist at the home of a vicar in County Armagh. The thieves used a smart phone with a camera to communicate with an art expert who pointed them to the most valuable loot.
The two men attacked and tied up the vicar, having forced their way into his home.
A source said, “They were on the phone to someone outside the house and from what I understand they used a hi-tech phone to show the third party which pieces were in the house.
“They wanted to know which were most valuable because those are the ones that were stolen. There was a lot taken, an awful lot.”
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The pair stole furniture and paintings, including 18th century works by the Venetian artist Canaletto.
They smashed everything they were forced to leave behind with a hatchet. The criminals also took the vicar’s contacts book, which contains the personal details of wealthy people including members of the Guinness family and millionaire, Edward Haughey.
According to reports in the Irish Daily Mirror, the thieves had Irish accents.
The vicar has dealt in art for decades. The elderly bachelor requested that his identity remain a secret.
A source told the Mirror, “This robbery was well-planned and ruthlessly executed. They had possibly been watching the house for months, watching the major art sales where the victim was well known.
“They waited and then they struck and they have left an old man battered, terrified and ill with worry.
He already had a heart problem but now he’s living on his nerves and he has lost all his lovely things.”
His contacts may also be in danger of an attack, as the criminals took the vicar’s address book. Many of his contacts have already been warned. The Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Gardai (Irish police) have been monitoring their security since the incident on 3rd January.
Although the extent of the heist is yet to be entirely calculated, it is believed to run in the multi-millions.
The source said, “The victim of this attack and robbery is a well-respected and much-loved member of society. He is a deeply religious gentleman who’s liked by everyone who knows him.
“He has given years of dedication to the local people in his position within the church but also as a neighbor and friend. It’s appalling to know what he’s been through and he’s very reticent to talk about it because he’s afraid to draw attention to himself.”
This is the third raid of this type in County Armagh over the last three years.