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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Thieves raid historic house
Waddesdon Manor
The National Trust-owned stately home is sited near Aylesbury
A gang of thieves has raided the historic Waddesdon Manor, home of the famous Rothschild Collection.

A gang of five men wearing boiler suits and balaclavas is believed to have broken into the National Trust-owned stately home near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

They stole more than 100 gold boxes and a number of other valuable pieces.

Thames Valley Police said officers were called to the burglary at about 0200 BST on Tuesday.

A police spokesman said it was an organised raid by professionals who knew what they wanted.

Estimates of the value of the haul taken from the 19th Century manor in the early hours of yesterday have been put at tens of thousands of pounds.

This was a professional and organised criminal act and we are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen anything
Detective Sergeant Dave Honeyball of Aylesbury CID

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: "It is believed that up to five men in a blue Toyota Hi-Lux broke into the manor and stole more than 100 gold boxes and a number of other unique precious items before making off."

Police using tracker dogs and a force helicopter carried out an extensive search and a car believed to have been used in the burglary was later found burned out and dumped.

Extraordinary wealth

It is thought to have been stolen from Ludgershall, Buckinghamshire earlier.

The Rothschild name has become synonymous with extraordinary wealth but the family's roots can be traced to a Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt.

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild came to England in 1859 when he was just 20 and bought 3,000 acres of land in Buckinghamshire from the Duke of Marlborough in 1874.

Waddesdon was never intended as a home but was designed as a showpiece for the Baron's 18th Century French art collection.

Organised criminals

The collection, commonly referred to as "priceless", includes French 18th Century furniture, porcelain, English portraits and many pieces of Renaissance art.

On Wednesday the present Lord Rothschild said: "This is a very serious loss. Waddesdon encapsulates generations of Rothschild collecting and the gold boxes at Waddesdon are among the finest in the world."

Detective Sergeant Dave Honeyball of Aylesbury CID said: "This was a professional and organised criminal act and we are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen anything or have any further information that they feel may help in the police investigation."

Anyone who may have seen the incident or a blue Toyota Hi-Lux driving in the area , or who may have further information on this incident, is urged to contact Detective Sergeant Honeyball on 012 9639 6000 or Crimestoppers, free and in confidence, on 0800 555 111.

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