This is a guest post by John Hannen.
Covering everything from intricate collections of jewels to fine pieces of art, humanity has certainly gathered together a remarkable range of precious items over history. As these items have an immense value and high insurance costs attached to them though, you may find yourself pondering how these pieces are kept out of the grasp of thieves — especially after viewing popular heist movies likeMarvel’s Black Panther and Ocean’s 8 in recent months.
Here, 2020 Vision, who specialises in IP CCTV systems, showcases some of the most protected artifacts across the globe and detail the security measures in place to deter criminals.
Measures Which Protect the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom
So much eye-catching treasure has been collected by the royal family of the United Kingdom over the past few centuries. Items include the Sovereign’s Orb and the Imperial State Crown. With 23,578 delicate stones and over 140 objects, putting an exact price on the jewels has been difficult but estimates have been made stating that they are worth over £3 billion. As well as this, it has also proven impossible to insure them because of their immense value.
As a result, it’s without question that heightened security required. Therefore, the collection is locked away in the Jewel House at the tower of London. Believe it or not, the crown jewels are protected by bombproof glass and although the tower is open to the public, they’re watched by more than 100 hidden CCTV cameras.
Then there’s the 22-strong Tower Guard which can be found at the Tower of London. This is a detachment of the British Army, who has the sole purpose of protecting the Crown Jewels on behalf of the Ministry of Defense. Additionally, these guards are accompanied by 38 Yeomen Warders, who are ex-military personnel who manage the large numbers of visitors. The Yeomen are permanently present and live in the tower itself.
It is on special occasions that the UK’s Crown Jewels are granted their only public appearances. Coronation and State Opening ceremonies are two such instances, while they can be only removed under the authority of the Lord Chamberlain who is the head of the Royal Household. However, when this type of activity occurs, armed police officers must be present.
The case of the Crown Jewels of Sweden
Perhaps, Sweden will be aiming to learn from the UK’s example to better protect their own Crown Jewels. This is because, in August 2018, two crowns and a royal orb which belonged to King Charles IX of Sweden and his wife Christina of Holstein-Gottorp were stolen in what looked like an amateur heist.
The Strangnas Cathedral wasn’t always used to put the 400-year-old jewels on public display though. The gems were originally created as funeral pieces and were buried in the tomb with them but were later unearthed. Although the theft was premeditated, it was extremely insufficient. Two men walked into the cathedral around midday and smashed the glass where the contents were held — causing alarms to go off around the building. The duo escaped from the crime scene by bicycle and then by a motorboat along Lake Malaren, entering Stockholm archipelago. However, one of the thieves was soon tracked down because of blood left at the crime scene and the jewels were partly recovered.
Stealing the Crown Jewels of Sweden is one thing; selling them on the black market would be arguably even more difficult. This is because government authorities would be out looking for them — and no one wants to put themselves at risk of being caught. As well as this, they’re extremely valuable and the thieves would have to find the right buyers. The jewels are made from the noblest metals and the gold value is worth around £43,000.
One more than one occasion, attempts have been made to steal Sweden’s Crown Jewels. In 2012, a 19-year-old refugee claimed to be a friend of a member of the royal family and stole £73,700 worth of jewels — but sold them only for £730 to drug dealers for marijuana. As well as this, the thief also reportedly stole a £30,350 tiara and threw it off a bridge.
There are a few things that must be learned from the level of security surrounding the Crown Jewels of Sweden. Although the stolen Crown Jewels from the cathedral were on public display, they weren’t properly protected, and the thieves should have been detected as they walked in. With artifacts of immense value situated in the building, the cathedral should be looking at installing walk-through security door frames and conduct regular visitor searches. In terms of the theft in 2012, people with the right credentials should only be able to enter certain areas of the palace.
Measures which Protect the Mona Lisa from Thieves
The painting of the Mona Lisa was a stroke of genius from Leonardo da Vinci. It was crafted between 1503 and 1517 and is known as one of the most recognizable pieces of art in the world. In fact, the piece itself is the most known, most visited and most written about in modern times. The painting has the highest known insurance valuation in history too, according to the Guinness World Records. The valuation stands at $100 million in 1962. However, the inflation rate takes this up to $821,746,666.67 in 2018, making it one of the most valuable items in the world.
Here are two facts for trivia fans — fact number one is that the Mona Lisa never received da Vinci’s signature, and fact number two is that it was never delivered to its intended owner. Instead, the work of art was sold to King Francis I and supposedly entered the Royal Collection in 1518. After the French Revolution, the painting was moved to the Louvre, what was thought to be a safe haven for the piece — but it wasn’t.
One day in 1911, the Mona Lisa painting was stolen. However, it took a few hours to realize so. French painter Louis Béroud visited The Louvre and found that the painting was missing — he asked the guards about its whereabouts and they weren’t entirely sure and assumed that it was being photographed for museum advertisement. Béroud returned a few hours later and the painting had not been returned; it had been stolen.
Investigations were carried out, which resulted in The Louvre having to close its doors from the public for a full week. There were many now famous-faces on the suspect list for the theft of this masterpiece, including Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso; but they were both cleared of all charges. The real thief, Vicenzo Peruggia, was found two years later when he attempted to sell the painting to a museum in Florence. It’s often described as one of the greatest thefts in the 20th century, as Peruggia stole the piece during working hours, hid in a broom closet and waited until after hours to walk out of the museum with the painting positioned under his coat. However, the thief was only jailed for six months as it was defined as an act of patriotism for Italy. The painting returned to its home in Paris.
At the moment, there are approximately six million visitors who check out the Mona Lisa each year. What’s more, it sits behind a bulletproof glass because of past vandalism attempts (throwing stones, acid etc.). The glass is reportedly almost two centimeters thick and the painting is held in a specially sealed box that protects it from vibrations and humidity. Public visitors are separated from the piece by a queue barrier, but that is only one aspect of the state-of-the-art security systems that The Louvre has put in place.
Access control systems, a 24-hour surveillance of closed-circuit TV cameras and intruder-detection equipment like video analytics are all installed around the 70,000-square-meter space which makes up The Louvre. They all help to protect some of the finest pieces of art in the world.