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Thief takes 'priceless' city silver; CRIME: Fears stolen pieces could be melted down.

Byline: By Chris Morley

A THIEF has walked off with the "crown jewels" of an organisation representing Britain's jewellery industry at its Birmingham headquarters.

The conman tricked his way into the Vyse Street offices of the British Jewellery, Giftware & Finishing Federation, in Hockley, and casually helped himself to four unique items worth tens of thousands of pounds.

But the Jewellery Quarterbased federation fears the stolen silver pieces could now simply be melted down for the value of their metal because their distinctive character makes them too difficult to sell on.

The plausible thief, whose image was caught clearly on CCTV footage, arrived at the site after office hours and persuaded door staff that he worked at the centre and needed to get back in to pick up items he had forgotten.

Later it was noticed that an engraved rosewater dish, ceremonial inkstand and pair of salvers had been taken.

The federation has now undertaken a major review of its premises and improved security.

The pieces, designed to show the craftsmanship of the industries represented by the group, all date back to the formation of the federation in the 1950s and carry its distinctive coat of arms.

BJGF president Linda Evans said: "They are one-offs and are not replaceable. They are priceless to us but whoever stole them will probably only be able to get the value of them being melted down.

"Every time visitors came to us they would comment on how wonderful they were. If we had to have something similar made again, we would be talking in excess of pounds 20,000-pounds 30,000."

She said alerts went out to all businesses in the local area immediately after the theft, which took place on Halloween evening, in a bid to track down the four items.

So far police inquiries have drawn a blank as to their whereabouts.

CAPTION(S):

DISTINCTIVE... two of the stolen pieces of silverware that were taken by a conman.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 2, 2006
Words:325
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