May 20, 2003
- Suspected art thief back in police custody after eluding authorities for three months
- FBI called in on missing artifacts case
Suspected art thief back in police custody after eluding authorities for three months
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
By MIREIDY FERNANDEZ, email@example.com
After eluding police for more than three months, a suspected art thief who authorities allege stole nearly $7 million worth of Impressionist paintings from a Naples mansion is back in police custody, local authorities said Monday.
Naples police say Fernando Alfaro, 46, of Miami, was arrested Sunday at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Center in Miami-Dade County after authorities issued a be-on-the-lookout bulletin for Alfaro, who remained at large. Alfaro originally was apprehended Feb. 12 and booked at a Miami-Dade County jail on charges of dealing in stolen property and grand theft, but Alfaro bonded out just four hours after his arrest, reports show. Alfaro, considered by police as the ringleader, was released, even though there was a $1.1 million warrant from Collier County in connection with the Impressionist art thefts. Miami-Dade jail officials said at the time that they were not aware that such a warrant on Alfaro existed. Alfaro and a suspected accomplice, 32-year-old Rigoberto Gonzalez, stand accused of stealing "Paysage á Vétheuil" by Claude Monet, worth $4 million, and "La Place de Trinite" by Pierre Auguste Renoir, worth $2.7 million on Dec. 28 from the Gordon Drive beachfront estate of Lee Anderson.
Police say the suspected thieves tried to sell the artworks for $1 million to undercover officers. Naples police said Monday that Miccosukee authorities apprehended Alfaro at the Indian casino sometime Sunday. Miccosukee police Cpl. Edward Pimentel said Monday he could not comment on the arrest because he did not have the specifics. Alfaro's arrest report was not available for review, either. Liza Pena, a casino supervisor, said she did not know about the arrest, nor did she have details of the incident. Naples police say the works were stolen when the Anderson family left the house for dinner, left a door unlocked and didn't turn on the security alarm system. Police have said the family most likely interrupted the break-in and the thieves ran off with the artworks.
Police say the paintings had been kept in a Miami efficiency apartment but were recovered undamaged after law enforcement from local, state and federal agencies conducted an undercover operation to recover the paintings.
FBI called in on missing artifacts case
Monday, May 19, 2003
By Staff Report
SAN JUAN BAUTISTA - A statewide investigation into the theft of two historic artifacts from the tack room of the Castro-Breen Adobe has begun, including help from the FBI, state park officials announced Thursday.
A pair of silver spurs and a rawhide headstall were stolen sometime around April 30 from the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park museum exhibit after an employee discovered the missing items. “This is a rare occurrence at the park,” said Dave Schaechtele, a California State Parks public information officer who added he could not go into specific details about the theft. The value of the missing artifacts also could not be determined. “Anytime you are dealing with artifacts, you really can’t put a value on it,” Schaechtele said. The missing rawhide headstall is about 15 inches long and 3 inches wide. The American-type spurs were made in Mexico and have distinguishable artwork of a silver person soldered onto each spur. Investigators are surveying Western memorabilia dealers or those dealing in antiquities, along with pursuing other leads, Schaechtele said.
“We have other tracking measures, but we can’t go into specifics because of the investigation, because whoever did this could his see his vulnerability,” he said. “We would rather concentrate on what was stolen.” Schaechtele said because of the number of agencies involved in the investigation, including help from the FBI with its technological capabilities, information was withheld until Thursday. “We had to look into legal matters, that’s why there was a delay,” Schaechtele said. Security measures at the historic state park include rangers patrolling the grounds during the day while an alarm is activated during the night. Schaechtele said there is a number of reasons someone would steal the artifacts. “Someone could have stolen the pieces for a collection or to sell and make money,” he said. The two artifacts were a part of the Breen family collection that have been on display since the early 1960s.
Members of the Patrick Breen family were California pioneers who were part of the Donner Party and survived the ill-fated journey.
The Breens settled in the San Juan Bautista area in the 1850s.
If anyone has information about the artifact theft, please contact Park Superintendent Curtis Price at (831) 623-0610.