This week we’ve been pondering a new release that is also a golden oldie. In a leafy part of Boston, not usually known for its criminal fraternity, is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. And in 1990 the museum was burgled. So far, so good. But …
Law enforcement officials have just (as in last week) released some video footage that was part of the surveillance technology of the museum at the time and it shows somebody entering the museum around 1am the day before the robbery. Just 24 hours later, one of the museum’s two watchmen was to give two men access to the museum, through the same side door. Both watchmen were then tied up, to conceal the role of the thieves’ helper, and 13 priceless artworks were stolen and never recovered. They also took something else – the surveillance camera footage from the night of the robbery, but they failed to consider, or maybe couldn’t locate, the footage from the previous night, which investigators now think may have been a dry run to time the next night’s robbery.
Private detectives in the area have been scratching their heads about all this. Former police detective turned private investigator Thomas Shamshak, who is based in Massachusetts said that he assumed that the video hadn’t been released before because of its poor quality, and was not being shown to the public after technological enhancement to see if anybody was able to identify the man entering the museum.
FBI stumped – perhaps they should hire a private eye?
The same law enforcement officials who released the footage have chosen not to say whether the FBI looked at this footage when they began their investigation 25 years ago. What is clear is that a new investigation team has looked at the surveillance camera material and decided it might be useful. The FBI have claimed all along that they know you stole the paintings and that they were transferred to Philadelphia where the trail runs cold.
Private investigators suggest that the night guard who is known to have let men into the museum should have been the focus of an enquiry. As Robert King Whitman, former FBI agent now specialising in private investigation and recovery of stolen artefacts, says “The first thing you would do as an investigator is ask the guard, ‘who is that person, and why is he in the museum?”
How private detectives help recover stolen goods
If any of the parties involved chooses to hire a private eye, their first stop will indeed be the night watchmen implicated in the case, simply because nearly 90% of museum burglaries in the USA involve an inside party – in other words, finding the weak link in an inside job is often the trigger to closing a case for private detectives.
We know that many of our cases are solved because we identify the point at which the lies begin, and then proceed on several lines of enquiry until somebody is revealed to have lied. Whilst it’s not a complicated idea, the process that leads to a successful outcome in a private detective’s case load requires many years of experience and highly skilled personnel to succeed.