Crime of patrimony: as a man is charged for the burglary of a Herts property, awareness is raised over Heritage Crime

Grade II Listed Property

Grade II Listed Property - Credit: Archant

If you own a cultural or historical property, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on Heritage legislation.

Earlier in the year, Hertfordshire police launched a nationwide appeal to help trace 23 paintings, worth tens of thousands of pounds, stolen from a studio in Hertford. Today, a man from Billericay, Essex has been charged for the burglary.

The matter has brought local attention to the issue of Heritage Crime, which can be commonplace in rural counties such as Hertfordshire, and in regions of listed property or wealth.

Heritage Crime is defined as “an offence which targets our historic environment - such as famous natural landmarks, cathedrals and ancient battlefields - and cultural property - such as pieces of art, jade and rhino horn. Heritage crime covers a wide variety of criminal activity which can damage assets forever. This can include architectural theft, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, unauthorised excavation and metal detecting, damage caused by vehicles, metal theft or theft of historical and cultural property.”

In this case, it was artwork. But those with listed properties should be aware of Heritage Crime as an offence.

In this county, the Hertfordshire Constabulary is working closely with Herts County Council, local councils, the Crown Prosecution Service and English Heritage to reduce the amount of crime that damages our historic sites and buildings. Earlier this year, Hertfordshire Heritage Watch celebrated its first birthday, with The Constabulary’s Chief Constable, Andy Bliss, commenting that: “It’s so important that we do what we can to tackle heritage and cultural property crime effectively to protect Hertfordshire’s historical and cultural assets for future generations.”

As a homeowner, if your property is protected, it’s important to be aware of the Heritage Crime legislation. While you are unlikely to purposefully damage your home, architectural damage falls under this remit, so it’s important to know if/how you can amend your property. And be aware of the allure that a listed location might have to high-aiming criminals.

More can be read about adding to, rennovating or extending your listed home in our article on the topic last month.