Specialized Police Forces

Many States Parties to the 1970 Convention have established specialized police units to prevent and fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property. These specialized police units also play a crucial role, by creating a comprehensive national and regional network, in recovering stolen or lost cultural property, and their return to their place of origin.

Key Partners

INTERPOL, specifically its Works of Art Unit, provides tools to facilitate the global exchange of information between police forces on crimes involving works of art, the details of the artworks and the criminals involved. INTERPOL serves as a central repository for this data, providing analysis to identify emerging trends in art thefts such as the proliferation of counterfeit, fake or forged works; or the use of the Internet for selling works of dubious provenance.
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The “Carabinieri Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage” in Italy, is a specialized police unit functionally dependent to the Ministry of Culture. The Department is tasked with the protection of the national cultural property through the prevention and repression of criminal activities, the recovery of looted cultural objects through the cooperation with international organizations, such as UNESCO, and other police forces.
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The Heritage Team of the Central Operational Unit of the ‘Guardia Civil’ is responsible for investigating any crime against cultural property, including in relation to art theft, looting and illicit trafficking of cultural goods, artwork fraud and counterfeits. The Heritage Team cooperates directly with Spain’s Ministry of Culture and other relevant departmental authorities responsible for protecting Spain’s heritage, as well as coordinating with other specialized police forces from other countries.
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The “Central Office for the Fight against Trafficking of Cultural Property (OCBC)” is competent in dealing with the theft and/or receipt of stolen property with an artistic or historical value that relates to cultural heritage, but also in terms of artwork counterfeits. It is responsible for carrying out preventative activities as well as, training and outreach, and cooperating with international organizations, such as UNESCO, and other police forces.
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Other Specialized Police Forces


Department of Cultural Heritage Protection – Argentine Federal Police

Its mission is to prevent and combat illicit acts linked to the international traffic of works of art and objects that conform the national cultural heritage. More information

Service for Organized Crime, Art and Antiquities, within the Directorate of Crime against Goods (DJB), part of the Federal Police of Belgium.
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Cultural Historical Valuables within the Unit for Combating Organized Crime (GDBOP), part of the Criminal Police Chief Directorate of Bulgaria.

“National Headquarters of Crimes Against the Environment and Cultural Heritage”, part of the Investigative Police of Chile.
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Office for Cultural Property, within the Criminal Investigation Office, part of the Cyprus Police
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Special Unit investigating crimes against cultural heritage ("Unidad Especializada en Investigación de Delitos contra el Patrimonio Cultural (UEIDPC)"), part of the National Police of Ecuador.

Division Crime against cultural goods, part of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany

Department Against Smuggling of Antiquities, a branch of the Greek National Police Division of Public Safety.

Art and Treasure Unit, National Office of Investigation, part of the National Police Headquarters of Hungary
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Arts and Antiques Unit, within the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, part of Ireland’s National Police Service

Section of Investigation of Cultural and Art Theft, part of the Criminal Police Office of Lithuania

Art and Antiques Crime Unit, part of the National Police of the Netherlands

“Police Division for Historical Heritage National” (División de Patrimonio Historico Policial), part of the Investigative Police of Chile.

National Unit for Combating Crime against National Heritage, Criminal Investigation Bureau, part of the National Police in Poland

Historical Heritage Squad ("Brigada de Patrimonio Historicó"), part of the Criminal Police Department of Spain

United Kingdom (London)
Art and Antiques Unit, Metropolitan Police

United States of America
Art Crime Team, part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

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