Three men arrested for the theft of 18 Chinese artefacts from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge have been jailed for 6 years each.

Robert Smith, 24, of Hockenden Lane, Kent, Steven Coughlan, 26, of Eleanor Street, London, and another 29-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were each sentenced for conspiracy to burgle at Cambridge Crown Court, having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

A 15-year-old boy from London who had also pleaded guilty to burglary was sentenced to a four-month detention and training order.

The artefacts were stolen on 13 April, when the thieves broke into the back of the Fitzwilliam Museum after closing time. CCTV footage showed four people heading towards the rear of the museum shortly before the burglary, around 7.30pm. They were then seen carrying bags away from the museum, before making their escape in a van that had been stolen five days earlier in London.

When CCTV from the previous day was checked, Smith, Coughlan and the 29 year old were identified, surveying the museum and paying particular attention to the Chinese gallery which housed the stolen artefacts.

Cambridgeshire Police’s Detective Chief Inspector Jim McCrorie said: ‘This sentencing follows a large scale operation and a great deal of work to ensure those involved in this burglary were caught and convicted.

‘Sadly the items, which are of huge cultural significance, have still not been traced but we remain committed to following any new lines of enquiry that could lead to their recovery.’

 Anyone with information that they believe could lead to tracing the stolen property can call 01733 863157 or 08703 120535, or email confidentialinfo@inbox.com

Click here to see pictures of the missing artefacts.

CCTV footage released by Cambridgeshire police