Art thefts are increasing. Apart from representing a menace to the cultural heritage, it makes added demands on local and international law enforcement.
In 1989 some 5,000 works of art were reported stolen, representing only a small fraction of the total. Many smaller museums do not report thefts, whether because the theft is not discovered or because they have inadequate information to prove that it has occurred. It is estimated that the annual value of stolen art is more than $5 billion. In Italy, for example, an average of 16 works were stolen every day in 1971 from museums, churches and galleries, for a total of 7,560. In 1987, 9,417 art works were stolen in Italy. In France 440 pictures were reported stolen in 1969, 1,500 in 1970 and 3,000 in 1971. In 1983, 400 works were listed stolen in one month. In 1993 in Stockholm, a single operation resulted in theft valued at £40 million.