Quick action by police last night ensured two pictures in an exhibition by one of the greatest artists of all time were dumped by a robber as he fled into the night.
Detectives believe the operation to steal from the Rembrandt show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery had been carefully planned in advance, with some of the paintings there being worth millions of pounds.
But it was foiled by a rapid response from Flying Squad coppers – one of whom was sprayed in the face by the fleeing thief but still finished his shift of duty.
Police were called at 11.30pm last night, Wednesday, 13 November, to reports of an alarm at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
The intruder appears to have forced entry to the gallery and removed the two paintings.
Officers arrived minutes later and, following the search of the area, discovered an intruder and an officer gave chase.
The intruder then turned and used a canister to spray the officer in the face with an unknown substance.
As a result of this assault, the suspect was able to get away.
The officer who was sprayed did not suffer serious injuries and continued with his tour of duty.
The officer located and recovered one painting, and in cooperation with security staff, the other painting was also quickly found.
Neither painting had left the gallery grounds and both remain in the gallery’s care.
Detectives from the Flying Squad are investigating.
Detective Inspector Jason Barber from the Flying Squad said: “This was an audacious attempted burglary and was clearly planned in advance. Two paintings in the exhibition were targeted and it was only down to the prompt response of gallery security staff and the courage and swift intervention of officers that these two works of art were not stolen. Thankfully both the paintings were quickly recovered and secured.”
“Our enquires now centre on finding whoever was responsible for this crime and I would ask anyone with information to call police.”
Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101 or contact via Twitter @MetCC. Quote CAD 8662/13NOV.
To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.
Pictured: Dulwich Picture Gallery, top; and Rembrandt self-portrait from 1640