The Moment - Feb 22, 2020

Crime Ring Used Social Media For Multi-million Dollar Art Thefts Around Houston

  • July 25, 2019 15:19

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"California Hills in Spring," a Childe Hassam painting stolen from the home of Tony Buzbee.
Houston Police Dept.
"Jeune Femme au Chapeau noir," a Pierre Bonnard work stolen from the home of Tony Buzbee.
Houston Police Dept.

Burglars used social media to monitor victims' activities, scout their homes, and steal millions in artwork and other property, say Houston police. Seven people have been arrested in connection to the crimes.

Among the victims was attorney Tony Buzbee, who is running for Houston mayor. He had around $21 million worth of artwork stolen, including works by Childe Hassam, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, Jean Pierre Cassigneul and Fernand Leger, among others, say officials. Some of the artwork has not been recovered. A $50,000 reward is offered; information can be relayed to HPD’s Major Offenders Division at 713-308-3100 or email majoroffendersdivision@houstonpolice.org.

"Paysage au coq rouge," a Fernand Leger work stolen from the home of Tony Buzbee.
Houston Police Dept.

The crime ring at times monitored victims' social media accounts, infiltrated their large parties to survey the premises, and followed people's daily routines before breaking into homes to steal valuable items. Information has not been released on all of the stolen property.

Police were led to the burglars when a confidential informant notified them that several watches valued at about $115,000, from 30 timepieces stolen from Buzbee's home, were offered for sale, according to court documents. 

Read more at Houston Chronicle (slideshow includes images of stolen artwork)


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