Justice is blind to Signet Library art thief

CALL off Rebus and give Taggart a break. The Strange Case of the Signet Library Art Heist took a bizarre turn yesterday with the stolen painting found hanging on the railings by the staff entrance to the Library. The Thomas Crown Affair this ain't.

The mysterious disappearance sent a frisson through Edinburgh's theologians and history buffs when the painting vanished after a highbrow New Year's Day debate in the law library on the legacy of John Knox. For the 200 attendees, it conjured up the prospect of a giant Cluedo game but without the fun – lengthy interviews in the library, finger-printing and DNA testing. The watercolour, I Cannae Hear You , depicting a windswept couple, had been hanging in a basement in a corridor leading to the toilets. It could have been taken by, well, anyone.

Its reappearance does not mark the end of police inquiries, but the case may slip a little down the Lothian Police caseload. Remarkably, the immediate area of its return was not covered by CCTV cameras. The thief may have had access to high level intelligence, or just got lucky. Perhaps the Signet Library should now commission a new painting of hundreds of earnest academics hanging on the words of the Rev Richard Holloway as a thief makes off with a painting into the windy night. The title? I Cannae See You.