S6.3 Collection Theft and Security Monitoring of Collections


Mr Paul Mayer1, Mr. RobĀ  Zschernitz1

1The Field Museum, Chicago, United States

Something has been stolen – what now? This was raised as a question in response to the plenary talk and discussions by Kirk Wallace Johnson author of The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century at last year’s SPNHC Meeting in Chicago.

This symposium will investigate and try to develop best practice policies on how to prevent thefts and how to handle sharing information on thefts?

Preventative Actions
1) Education: Engaging the communities who may be at higher risk and educating them as to the importance and scientific value of the collections
2) Heightened Security: Balancing between acceptable levels of security and either alienating the community or discouraging use of the collections.
3) Risk assessment: Identifying higher risk objects and higher risk visitors.

Communication Channels and Monitoring
1) Using listservs and social media to alert the community of thefts.
2 The use of automated alerts
3) Monitoring Social media
4) Train people in the amateur community to identify items as stolen.
5) Digitization and cataloging to help identify what has gone missing from collections.
6) Regular collection audits.

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