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Authorities recovered $30,000 worth of antique ivory figurines that had been recently stolen in Texas and then sold for $8,000. Here’s the account from customs agents:

HSI special agents, other Houston law enforcement arrest suspected art thief
April 5, 2013

HOUSTON — A suspected female cultural antiquities art thief was arrested Friday by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and officers with Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and Bellaire Police Department.

On April5, law enforcement authorities executed a Harris County arrest warrant on Patricia DiCoste, 57. Simpson Galleries in Houston reported the theft April 1 of 18 antique Chinese ivory Buddhist Lohans from the Qing Dynasty valued at $30,000. HSI special agents were able to track the stolen artifacts to a high-end consignment shop in Houston where the figurines were later sold for more than $8,000 to a Houston-based auction house.

HSI special agents on Wednesday met with the auction house representatives and seized the statues.The ivory statues are now in the care and custody of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

“HSI understands the cultural and historical significance of protecting a country’s national treasures,” said Brian M.Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston.”Our special agents are at the forefront of the effort to identify and return these important items to their lawful owners in the same way we would want our global partners to return America’s artifacts in the event they were ever stolen.”

DiCoste is currently in Harris County Jail awaiting arraignment on felony theft, a state charge.

This arrest was conducted in support of Houston HSI’s Operation “Hidden Relic.” The initiative is designed to investigate, recover and repatriate stolen cultural property.

HSI plays a leading role in criminal investigations that involve the illegal importation and distribution of cultural property, including the illicit trafficking of cultural property, especially objects that have been reported lost or stolen.

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