What Is Museum SOS

Wilbur C. Faulk
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Collections Theft: A Guide to Preventive Measures and Developing a Theft Response Plan

Wilbur C. Faulk
Cultural Property Protection Group


Responding to a theft is like responding to a human-caused or natural disaster - the measures that those of us charged with protecting our cultural heritage should take both before and after the incident can minimize damage and facilitate recovery. This presentation provides an overview of the functions that come into play in a theft response and suggests actions to take before and after the incident.

Who will be involved in the theft if an artifact or valuable object is stolen? An effective theft response plan calls for coordinated effort from a wide range of people, including the museum director, collections manager, security manager, registrar, and public affairs person and will also include the institution's insurance broker and local law enforcement agencies.

What steps can be taken on both the prevention and response sides? Each "role" has a checklist of activities that should be initiated before and after the incident. We will review the suggested steps to be taken.

The time of a theft of collections is NOT the time to pull an action plan together!

The key to an effective theft response plan is the same key to effective fire prevention or emergency response: Taking active steps to prevent the problem, creating an action plan for effective and efficient response, and practicing the response through table-top exercises, drills, etc.


PDF of entire lecture


If you log onto the CPPG website, you will find a listing of cultural security related websites (along with a description) providing a wealth of information.

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