What does the Art Gallery of New South Wales (NSW) have in common with the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Contemporary Art? Well, yes, they are all found in the wonderful city of Sydney but each of these national and state cultural icons is also located within the one Local Area Command (LAC) of the NSW Police Force: The Rocks LAC.
The Rocks LAC is a busy precinct, popular with locals and tourists alike. The police often have to contend with a lot of events and associated crime in this area, so when A Cavalier was stolen in June 2007, this was just another of the many investigations they had to attend to and the art robbery itself was labelled a property crime. It is critical at this point to highlight one fundamental difference between Australia and other countries such as the USA, Italy and the UK – a difference which undoubtedly hindered the investigation into the theft of Frans van Mieris’s painting: Australia lacks a specialised art crime unit. Indeed there is presently not one police officer who specialises in art crime. Consequently, while the artwork itself is considered a valuable state asset, both financially and culturally, in a list of police priorities at the time, this act of property crime was apparently not so highly ranked. Furthermore, there were no police protocols in place that dealt specifically with an art theft.
Slowly but surely more attention is being raised about the need for resourcing police services to deal with art crime. In the meantime, if we want to find A Cavalier, and of course we do, it is up to publically generated initiatives such as this site to aid its recovery. You are making a difference by being part of this public awareness campaign and by spreading the word that somewhere out there is a lost Cavalier that needs to be found! By V.O.