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Crime groups as criminal entrepreneurs – stealing heritage and cultural property: A case study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2023

John Kerr*
University of Law, Bloomsbury Campus, London, United Kingdom


Crime groups are drawn to stealing heritage and cultural property because the thefts can be less dangerous than other illicit activities and there can be a lower chance of detection. In addition, there are financial opportunities such as selling the objects, using them as currency and collateral in illicit markets, and through rewards and ransoms. While these factors remain, crime groups operating as criminal entrepreneurs will continue to be attracted to this type of theft even if situational crime prevention strategies are implemented at locations. Unique and irreplaceable heritage and cultural property will be stolen, and societies will lose in artistic, cultural, heritage, historical, and financial terms. This article argues that, while people tasked with the policing and security of heritage and cultural property should focus on the potential thefts, policing agencies also need to focus on the crime groups, especially as heritage and cultural property thefts can be crime groups’ “Achilles’ heel.”

© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the International Cultural Property Society

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