Museums Find Insider Rogues' Gallery. (News and Trends)

By Gips, Michael A. | Security Management, June 2002 | Go to article overview
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Museums Find Insider Rogues' Gallery. (News and Trends)


Gips, Michael A., Security Management


Despite ever-increasing evidence, some museum administrators fail to acknowledge the extent of internal theft. Recently, for example, a museum security director asked colleagues to provide data or anecdotal evidence on the incidence of internal theft that the director could show to his skeptical boss. The response to the query was overwhelming.

More formal data also show that the insider is the greatest threat for museums and other cultural properties. Statistics compiled by Lynne Chaffinch of the FBI's Art Theft Program reveal that 83 percent of thefts are committed by insiders, a group that includes trusted users, such as known outside researchers. These are typically crimes of opportunity, not premeditation, she says. "Most employees will limit their thefts to smaller items, choosing ones which are stored in archival boxes, locked in cabinets, or placed on high shelves so the loss won't be noticed," she says.

Stevan Layne, CPP, a museum security consultant based in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, echoes these findings. In a recent survey he conducted of 25 member institutions of the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, he found that "100 percent of the respondents said their losses were almost exclusively related to insiders," Layne reports.

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