Fears Edinburgh Castle being targeted by organised crime gangs for historic treasures

Police have been investigating an apparent attempt to plan a potential theft of valuable historic treasures which are stored at Edinburgh Castle.

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According to a report issued by Police Scotland regarding its performance over the last three months, officers have been investigating “hostile reconnaissance" at the landmark, which also came after an apparent breach of security at the National Museum of Scotland.

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The report, issued last week by police highlighted the activities of serious and organised crime gangs (SOCG) following a recent £1m theft from Arundel Castle in May, where a set of gold rosary beads carried by Mary Queen of Scots at her execution were stolen.

the police report highlights an incident at Edinburgh Castle.

The incident at the National Museum, on chambers Street, is understood to involve a member of the public who was discovered in a restricted area.

The Police Scotland report said: “In response to recent SOCG activity targeting heritage and cultural property such as the significant theft of Mary, Queen of Scots artefacts from Arundel Castle, Sussex, coupled with recently identified hostile reconnaissance at Edinburgh Castle and a breach of security at the National Museum of Scotland, work has been developing throughout June.

“In conjunction with partners including Historic Environment Scotland, National Museums of Scotland, National Trust for Scotland and Treasure Trove, Police Scotland are ensuring opportunities for similar thefts are minimised.”

It is understood that in the investigation no crime was detected at the Edinburgh Castle incident.

However, chief Inspector Clark Martin, Area Commander for south east Edinburgh, said: “Police Scotland is aware that criminals will exploit any situation for their own gain and this can include heritage and cultural sites. We work closely with partners, including Historic Environment Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland, and the National Trust for Scotland. We will always thoroughly investigate any reports of security concerns.

“Our approach is both direct, in terms of dealing with reports of concerns, and holistic, in terms of eliminating the potential for threats. As part of this, crime prevention officers meet with the owners and operators of heritage and cultural sites to advise on minimising and mitigating any perceived threats and discuss security.”

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which managed Edinburgh Castle, said: “We work closely with Police Scotland and other partners to ensure the nation’s heritage is protected from harm and, where we have concerns about any suspicious activity or behaviours at our sites, we will inform Police and will support them in their investigations.

“HES looks after some of Scotland’s most treasured historic places, and we remain constantly vigilant as to the security of these locations and to the safeguarding of our past.”

A spokeswoman for National Museums Scotland said: “A visitor made their way into an area normally reserved for staff and was assisted back into the museum by one of our team members.

"We have a range of security measures in place and we consult regularly with Police Scotland as part of our ongoing work to review them.”

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