Service of Canny Recovery Experts

June 24th, 2021

Categories: Burglary, Fashion Accessories, Theft

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

The only thing these targets of recent theft–watches and pistachios–have in common: each is relatively small and both caught the interest of The New York Times. It’s the style to steal luxury watches of late. And 21 tons of pistachios went missing the other day.

Felicia Craddock wrote an eye-opening piece in The New York Times in which she reported that according to art recovery expert Christopher A. Marinello, top of the line collectible watches are a hot commodity with thieves. He recovered a Richard Mille RM030 Carbon Argentina worth $145,000 that had been torn off the owner’s wrist in London four years ago. But most watch owners aren’t that lucky Marinello told Craddock. [By the way, his go-to-work watch is a “worn $50 Timex chronometer.”]

These days most watch thefts involve online fraud. Marinello told Craddock: “The ‘latest scam’ is a Miami-based online company that offers to buy your watch, he said. In March Mr. Marinello received a call from a medical student in Minnesota who had contacted the company; he needed cash for a medical procedure. They sent him a mailer and he sent them his Rolex. ‘The money never arrives and the watch disappears,’ Mr. Marinello said.”

And the nuts? Times reporter Eduardo Medina wrote about Touchstone Pistachio’s discovery in a routine audit: “About 42,000 pounds of pistachios — nearly enough to fill a truck trailer — were missing.” Thanks to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office’s agricultural crimes unit within days the perpetrator, who worked for a trucking company hired by the Terra Bella, Calif. nut farmer was found thanks to surveillance footage.

Image by Here and now, from Pixabay

“Nuts are big business in the region, and agricultural thefts are significant enough that the sheriff’s office created its agricultural crimes unit in 1996.

“Sheriff Mike Boudreaux of Tulare County told CNN in 2016 that his deputies traveled ‘as far as New Mexico’ to find stolen products, which are often nuts.

“Mae Culumber, a University of California crop adviser who specializes in nut crops, said nut commodities have a long shelf life, making them ideal for people looking to make a profit over a sustained amount of time,” Medina wrote.

The work of these experts fascinates me. I wrote previously [2015] about the haunting loss of artworks grabbed in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston–still not found–and an exceptional recovery of a Picasso stolen from the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2001. It was rescued in Newark 14 years later even though it had been identified for customs as a $37 art craft toy.

Do you think a job to track down thieves like these would be thrilling? Have you heard of unusual targets of such criminals?

Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

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13 Responses to “Service of Canny Recovery Experts”

  1. ASK Said:

    Thrilling, perhaps, once a stolen item is located and the perpetrator brought to justice. BUT, I have watched too many true-crime dramas during the pandemic to see that, in many cases, it takes years of frustrating work tracking down leads and reviewing thick files to find the felon. And then one must wait for the justice system to get in gear. Perhaps PR offers more immediate results!!

  2. jmbyington Said:


    These days PR has challenges which most industries suffer from: fewer targets and the people who work for them are short staffed. With their added responsibilities and stress of posting on social media it’s a challenge to get media attention especially for second string stories. Like the art and nut recovery people, the thrill of success is unbeatable!

  3. Husssein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    English may not be my first language (I always wanted to study “ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE” because I can’t understand foreigners and they can’t understand me) but surely Timex chronometer is an oxymoron

  4. TC Said:

    Interesting. I recall news of Picasso stolen from Pompidou. Have to wonder if stealing such recognizable treasures is more out of the thrill of doing so.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wondered about that too which is why I put quotation marks around the words not only for accuracy but so folks wouldn’t question that I’d messed up the reference.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I think you may be right: For some people the thrill of stealing treasures–or anything else for that matter–makes doing so fun.

    When I first took public transportation to school in Manhattan in fifth or sixth grade my mother asked me not to drop into a candy store located near the bus stop. The school notified parents that children were stealing candy from this place. She knew that I would never do that but feared one of the girls who did, if discovered on her way out, would toss the candy bar into my book bag and I’d be caught red-handed. Easier just to avoid the place. I remember one of the girls who did it. She had untold sums of disposable income from mom and dad and probably could have bought everything in the store at the time. Stealing was more exciting.

  7. MarthaTakayama Said:

    Bostonians are still haunted by the Gardner heist of 1990 and have lived with endless speculation about the crime. With the passage of time it seems less and less likely that we will ever know the truth about who did it, or why or where the paintings were or are. The BBC produced a documentary “This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist”, about the deceased Anglo-American art detective, Charles Hill, and his efforts to solve the mystery of the theft. He was a cultured and well-traveled man and an art historian, who thought after years of research that perhaps the notorious Boston born criminal Whitey Bulger was responsible for the theft.

    I have no knowledge about specific theft of precious timepieces and can’t think of any case as extraordinary as the mega-theft of nuts.

    I do know that the past few years have seen an extraordinary increase in theft of package deliveries (especially UPS) left at single family houses or multi-unit buildings including in so-called safe or luxurious neighborhoods. The increase in internet shopping has given rise to this enormous rise.
    As for being a detective for art or anything else I find the element of danger very off-putting and wouldn’t choose it for a career.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The nuts heist was something strange—right? Also new to me was the value and extent of agricultural theft so signifigant to generate a police department devoted to catching miscreants

    Good example—theft of delivered packages from even the toniest porches. There was an episode of Blue Bloods that featured such an incident from the front door of the NYC chief of police!

  9. lucrezia Said:

    Tracking down a jewelry/art or other type of big item thief, may be more fraught with danger than with thrills. The popular James Bond movies in no way represent the drudgery and peril involved in apprehending crafty criminals. The ideal agent may well be more of a puzzle solver than a thrill seeker. He may also be adept at keeping out of sight, since high caliber thugs will stop at nothing to protect both themselves and their loot.

    If seeking excitement, I’d hunt elsewhere.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You’re probably right. I was thinking of the elegant Cary Grant type in “To Catch a Thief.” Not a more thuggish variety of burglar.

    What would be interesting would be to learn how to tell fakes from real items. Even the experts get tripped up. One vivid memory was years ago at a preview at Sotheby’s. We were looking at an antique bed. We saw the estimate which was $30,000 worth goodness knows what in today’s money and turned away. As we strolled through the rest of the offerings one of the employees literally ran towards us to tell us that they had made a mistake that the antique bed had a tremendous amount of restoration that lowered the estimate considerably. The new estimate was $1500. So we went to the auction and didn’t even raise a paddle. The bed went for $11,000.

  11. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    MY MOST NOTORIOUS SOTHEBY’S FAKE-STORY revolved around walking around their bookstore one day and seeing a fake book on sale, purportedly written by me!

    I immediately sued the publisher for using my name without authorisation.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Wow—though i can be so easily fooled: is this true? You can tease and I’m an easy target. Or maybe there are two Amanda Ripanykhazovas and the other one wrote the book?

  13. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:


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