A NATIONWIDE manhunt is under way for thieves who stole two artefacts valued at £2million from Durham City’s Oriental Museum.
Durham Police have made five arrests, but are seeking the public’s help to find others.
Two suspects – Lee Wildman, also known as James Green, and Adrian Stanton – may be in the Birmingham area.
Mr Wildman was one of those originally arrested and bailed by police.
Detective Superintendent Adrian Green is keen to trace the movements of three other men from London, who were in the Durham City area in the last week.
He said: “They are two black males and one white, or possibly olive-skinned, all aged around 16 to 23 years.
“We believe they have been in the Meadowfield or Langley Moor area.
“They all speak with London accents so would have stood out.
“Inquiries with hotels and guest houses have drawn a blank, so we are appealing to landlords to check any properties they have to see if someone may have slept there.
“Members of the public may also have seen something or somebody acting suspiciously.”
Police are trying to trace the movements of three cars around Durham City: an orange Renualt Megane and a light blue Audi A3, both described as sports models and a BMW 330.
Registration numbers are not being given because the plates on the cars may have been changed.
The burglary took place last Thursday night, after the museum in Elvet Hill had closed for the day and was unoccupied.
In what police describe as a well-planned operation, the burglars spent 40 minutes chiselling a hole in an external wall, but under one minute inside the museum grabbing the jade bowl and porcelain figurine.
Det Supt Green said: “These items were obviously stolen to order.
“The thieves knew it was likely the alarm would not be triggered until they entered the building.
“It was a professional job, but they also made mistakes and I am confident that with the help of the public we will catch those responsible.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Durham Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.