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Art worth nearly £30,000 stolen in smash-and-grab raid

A LONE raider stole artwork worth nearly £30,000 in a smash-and-grab raid at Century Gallery in Hartley Wintney on January 30.

A LONE raider stole artwork worth nearly £30,000 in a smash-and-grab raid at Century Gallery in Hartley Wintney on January 30.

Twelve paintings and several sculptures worth £28,800 were stolen from the upmarket art gallery in the High Street at 3.10am.

A man was captured on the High Street CCTV camera committing the raid.

He was seen reversing a stolen red Vauxhall Astra which sped up on to the pavement in front of the shop.

He got out of the car and smashed the shop window, then climbed into the shop and stole the artwork from the front of the store while the security alarm was ringing.

The man, who was wearing a light-coloured jacket and dark trousers, escaped with the haul towards the A30.

The stolen paintings were a collection of work by two well-known artists which had been exhibited over the weekend.

Joan Richardson, who has only been the manager of the gallery for two weeks following the retirement of Elizabeth Bruce after 20 years' service, said the raid was an extremely sad experience for her.

She said: "The stolen paintings are a mixture of pastel and oil paintings by two lovely artists, Paul Gribble and the late Gabrielle Bellocq.

"I feel sad for the people connected to the artists and the owners of the gallery, plus the people of Hartley Wintney, as it is unnerving that something like this has happened here. It is a bit soul-destroying."

Scene of crime officers spent the morning examining the shop and managed to lift some marks.

Det Sgt David Storey of Yateley CID said: "The red Vauxhall Astra was stolen from Basingstoke and only one offender was seen.

"He did not go any further into the back of the shop, but I cannot say if he was only interested in the two artists' work. I expect he will look to sell them on, but I cannot say if he stole to order.

"The car was last seen going up the A30 and turning right into Bracknell Lane. From there he may have headed to Reading or Basing-stoke, we just do not know."

He added: "If any locals saw anything or if anyone hears anyone talking about this in a pub or in the street, or if you are offered a painting, then please contact us."

By the late afternoon of January 30 the stolen vehicle had not been recovered.

Anyone who can help should call Yateley CID on 0845 0454545 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


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