Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Arab posing as J'lem tour guide nabbed for selling ancient coins to tourists
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS (Jerusalem Post)

A 43-year-old Arab resident of east Jerusalem has been arrested for allegedly posing as a city tour guide and selling tourists various rare antique coins, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Tuesday.

The suspected antiquities thief was nabbed red-handed on Sunday in the Old City of Jerusalem by the state-run archeological body's anti-theft division in the midst of making a sale to unsuspecting tourists.

The suspect was found to be carrying around 100 impressive antique coins of various shapes and sizes, including Roman coins and a motley collection of other coins dating back to the Hellenistic Period.

The coins, which were taken from various archeological sites across the country, are valued in the thousands of dollars.

That's one arrest, but it's only the tip of the tel:
About 300 archeology thefts are detected each year in Israel, with the illicit antiquities trade on the black market in the country estimated to be in the millions of dollars annually.

The phenomenon of antiquities theft has taken on gold-rush dimensions with an antiquities site now plundered nearly every day on average.
The article also has a picture of some of the recovered coins.