TV antiques expert robbed

The Swan, Tom Keane's antiques centre.

A TV antiques expert is counting the cost after a gang of balaclava-wearing thieves raided his shop in the early hours of Friday.

Tom Keane, who started at the bottom buying and selling at car boot sales, has featured in a wide range of antique programmes including Cash in the Attic, Bargain Hunt, Dickinson's Real Deal and Storage Hoarders.

He also runs the Swan at Tetworth, in Oxfordshire, which represents 80 antique dealers in 40 showrooms - and from where the thieves made off with more than £200,000 worth of goods, including watches, diamonds and jewellery.

The gang of four forced a side door and smashed a display cabinet at the Swan. The police only missed them by minutes, after being summoned by the shop's automatic alarm.

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The thieves then made off in a stolen Land Rover, which was later found abandoned. Police are now studying CCTV footage and say they have spotted a man in a balaclava looking through the windows two nights before the theft, who may have been casing out the premises.

Many firms targeted

"It is organised crime. The gang stole the Land Rover from North Oxfordshire and dumped it up the road after the raid," Keane tells the Daily Mail.

"The police have told us that this is the fifth or sixth antiques business to be hit across Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the last few months - although we did not find out about the other raids until after we were hit."

Organised criminals are increasingly turning to theft of art and antiques, with figures suggesting that losses amount to more than £300 million a year - more than any other type of crime apart from drug dealing. Private houses are often targeted, as well as antique shops, museums and galleries.

Police advise all the usual security measures for protecting valuables, but stress the importance of taking photographs of art and antiques to help with identification if they're ever recovered.

"Take a variety of shots of each object. Remember, do not be concerned with taking the object from its most photographic angle, instead concentrate on what makes this object unique or identifiable," advises the Metropolitan Police.

Show an object's size by placing a ruler next to small items, or simply make a note of its measurements. Photograph any distinguishing marks, repair marks and hallmarks, and the back as well as the front of paintings. Store these photos somewhere safe, and include a short description of each item: "It is much easier to do this now, rather than trying to remember an object when it is stolen," the Met points out.

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