Terry Bradley work valued at £60,000 stolen during well-planned "professional" raid
THIEVES who stole up to £60,000 worth of works by Belfast artist from a city centre gallery may have hidden on the premises as part of an elaborate plan to carry out the raid.
Between 80 and 100 original art pieces were stolen from the pop up gallery in Chichester Street some time between 6pm on Wednesday night and 10am Thursday morning.
It is believed access was gained through the rear of the property. The artist's wife Ashley said the theft appeared to be "well planned and professional".
Mrs Bradley believes those responsible may have visited the gallery sometime on Wednesday and unlocked the back door from the inside, while police are investigating a suspicious phone call made from someone claiming to be from the Department of Environment who asked that the rear gate at the property be left open overnight for sewage works to be undertaken.
It is thought that when the gallery was closed up the gang was able to gain access from the open gate at the back of the building while someone inside opened the door of the gallery from the inside.
"They have used gloves, they've sprayed everything with bleach so there's no DNA evidence. It looks like a pretty professional set-up," she said.
"He puts his heart and soul into his work and he doesn't he even like it sometimes when his paintings are sold as it feels like he's lost a friend," she said.
"It's above and beyond having something stolen from him, it's so personal and so close to his heart, it's really affected him badly."
Many of the works stolen include originals and items paid for and reserved ahead of Christmas, with the Bradley family estimating the total value between £50,000 and £60,000.
Among the items was a large Batman canvas valued at around £2,500.
They are hopeful that the stolen artwork will be returned and appealed through Facebook for help in recovering the works. "Thanks a million for all your support and I have every confidence in the people of Belfast that these artworks will be found," Terry Bradley wrote yesterday.
Mrs Bradley said she was hopeful that people would respond to their appeal.
"Terry's very popular in Belfast, he has great support and is very much an artist that Belfast people associate with and he's done a lot to put non-political art on the map here. We're really hopeful we will get the majority of it back," she said.
Police have appealed for information.