AN ART thief got away with four paintings with a total value of more than £1,000 after raiding a library.

The items were swiped from Clitheroe Library, Church Street, as part of a free exhibition of work by Sawley Art Group – leaving the artists distraught.


Club member and professional artist John Chapman, who lives in Blackburn, said: “I’m really upset about this.

“I can’t understand why people would want to take paintings being exhibited in a library.

“People know my work and they would know if it was under-priced so it will be difficult for whoever has done it to sell.

“I don’t know whether it was kids playing a prank, a targeted theft or a spur of the moment thing.

“I’d just encourage whoever it was to return the paintings to the library.”

Police are examining CCTV footage to identify the culprit. No arrest has been made.

Mr Chapman, 69, said it was rare for paintings to be stolen but he once had one taken from a former art gallery in Clitheroe.

Mr Chapman’s work was a 12 inch by eight inch oil painting with a metal frame. It was a scene of boats moored at Skippool Creek, near Blackpool, and was valued at £850.

The second piece was an 8 inch by 14 inch pastel drawing of an oyster catcher on a beach. It was in a wooden frame and valued at £40.

The third was 12 inch by 10 inch water colour of a black and orange cockrell with a red comb. It had a wooden frame and was valued at £40.

The fourth was a 14 inch by ten inch water colour of four crows, ranging from large to small, walking on a line with a blue background. It was valued at £80.

Sergeant Dave Simpson, of Ribble Valley Police, said: “This is an unusual crime. We are studying local CCTV and I urge anyone with information about this crime or the whereabouts of the paintings to come forward.”

Anyone with information about the thefts, which took place between 9.30am on October 12 and 8.30am on October 14, can call police via 101.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555111.