For Americans concerned about whether impressionist paintings, fabled violins and other treasured items might be stolen property, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a new art crime smartphone app that promises direct contact with agents.
Anybody can use this free downloadable app, FBI officials announced Monday, to verify whether art and antiquities they own or are looking to buy weren’t stolen.
“Submit tips to the FBI directly from the app,” officials said.
This app gives mobile, on-the-run access to a National Stolen Art File database that FBI art crime investigators developed in working their cases.
In the past, police agencies and art-industry partners in the United States and abroad have submitted information on stolen Claude Monet paintings, Stradivarius violins, Tiffany lamps and the like to this database, FBI officials said. It holds secrets on the provenance of scores of stolen pieces of art and other culturally significant property.
By tapping public eyes and ears, FBI managers said, they hope to help law enforcers close cases and return art and property to rightful owners.
FBI Art Crime Program Agent Colleen Childers said making the NSAF publicly available was a big step and that, now, “we want to continue to push to make it a more user-friendly platform.”
Americans curious about art and antiquities they see could conduct computer searches for known stolen items with a focus on locations, descriptions and types of art.
Beyond submitting tips to FBI agents, the app lets users display relevant information and save it for easy access. Stolen art sleuths also could share information from the app via text messaging, email, and postings on other social media platforms.
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