Public asked to be vigilant on heritage crime

25 May 2018
Dorset Police is asking members of the public to be vigilant on heritage crime.

Heritage crime is defined as any offence involving the damage or loss to the historic environment, including all offences involving cultural property.

Offences include illegal metal detecting and theft of metal from historic buildings.

Nationally, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has led a Heritage and Cultural Property Crime Working Group that brings together heritage sector experts, police, the National Crime Agency and other law enforcement agencies to look at ways of protecting cultural property and the historic environment. 

Following two reported incidents this month involving illegal digging at historic sites, Dorset Police has stressed its commitment to tackling heritage crime.

At around 1.30pm on Thursday 3 May 2018 police received a report of a man digging illegally at Waddon Hill Roman fort at Stoke Abbott near Beaminster. The man reportedly handed over two pieces of metal when challenged by a member of the public.

He was described as aged in his 70s, with a grey beard and moustache and of a pale complexion and was wearing jeans, a black belt with a large buckle, a red and blue checked shirt and a jacket.

At around 7.45pm on Thursday 10 May 2018 a further report was received of two men and a woman illegally metal detecting in the grounds of Sandsfoot Castle in Weymouth.

The men were described as aged over 40, white and with large stomachs and the woman was described as white and of medium height and build with shoulder-length sandy brown hair. 

Police Constable Claire Dinsdale, from the Rural Crime Team, said: “Dorset Police takes any heritage crime seriously. 

“Such offences cause damage and loss to our historic environment, some sites having been there for thousands of years. 

“We would ask anyone with information about these or any similar offences to contact us.

“People digging or metal detecting on Scheduled Monuments need to have a licence from Historic England or they are breaking the law.

“Metal detecting anywhere and removing finds without the landowner’s permission if theft – not just on protected historic sites.”

Anyone with information about the above incidents or any heritage crime in the county is asked to contact Dorset Police at, via email or by calling 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via 

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