Bury St Edmunds: Police make arrest after chunk of Abbey ruin found for sale on Ebay
PUBLISHED: 13:01 09 May 2011
POLICE have arrested a man in the north of England after a chunk of stone allegedly from one of Suffolk's ancient monuments was discovered for sale on Ebay.
The palm-sized piece from the Abbey ruins in Bury St Edmunds was put up for sale by an Ebay seller who listed it as a “piece of the foundations of the Abbey”.
The seller also described the item as “very rare”.
The 11th and 12th Century Abbey ruins in the town’s internationally-famous Abbey Gardens are a scheduled ancient monument and looked after by English Heritage.
Last week the East Anglian Daily Times reported how the would-be seller had started the auction at £50 and is willing to sell it for £200 on a first-come first-served basis.
Suffolk police launched an investigation last Thursday after they were contacted by the EADT.
English Heritage, which is responsible for the ruins’ upkeep, issued a warning to the public that removing part of the site would be a criminal offence.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk police yesterday revealed a warrant had been executed and a man arrested near Liverpool.
She said: “Following a report of the possible theft of part of the fabric of the Abbey ruins in Bury St Edmunds, on Saturday a warrant was executed in the Huyton area of Liverpool and a piece of stone was recovered.
“A 24-year-old man from Liverpool was arrested on suspicion of theft and questioned by officers from Merseyside police before being released on police bail.”
Ebay said it had investigated the matter and said the stolen item was no longer listed for sale on its site.
The selling of an alleged piece of the town’s Abbey triggered widespread concern in the town.
A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: “We have reported the matter to Suffolk police for investigation.
“We would remind the public that Bury St Edmunds Abbey is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and that as such, removal of the fabric of the monument from the site is a criminal offence.
“English Heritage carries out regular visual inspections of the monument and any visible damage will be addressed as part of our planned and responsive maintenance programme.
“Deliberate acts of damage or vandalism are illegal and we take them seriously.”
A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which owns the ruins, said: “We were made aware of this through a constituent last Tuesday and immediately contacted English Heritage.
“Although the borough council owns the Abbey Gardens, it is part of a scheduled ancient monument under the jurisdiction of English Heritage.”
The arrested 24-year-old will have to report back to police at Bury police station on June 4.