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December 12, 2013

Bojan Dobovšek and Boštjan Slak on "Criminal Inspectors and Art Crime Investigation in Slovenia" in the Fall 2013 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Bojan Dobovšek and Boštjan Slak write on "Criminal Inspectors and Art Crime Investigation in Slovenia" in the Fall 2013 issue of The Journal of Art Crime. This is the academic article's abstract:
The aim of the paper is to present some presumptions about the criminal investigation of art and historical heritage-related crimes. Because credible literature on art crime investigation is rare, especially with clear empirical data, we have decided to survey Slovenian investigators about their opinions and experience relating to art crimes. Slovenian investigators rarely come across art crime cases, even in connection with other types of crime. Our survey showed that Slovenian criminal investigators are indifferent regarding keenness for art-related criminal cases investigation-: cases are not very “desirable” but also they are not “non-desirable.” In addition, investigators do not agree that they have enough knowledge about art-related crime. The most positively evaluated was cooperation with other instructions (like INTERPOL). The study results also showed that more dedication should be devoted to education about investigating art crimes; especially prosecutors and judges lack such knowledge. Some problems and experiences about academic research methods are also debated in the paper, therefore providing some help to future researchers. Our pilot study has shown that (at least in Slovenia) qualitative research methods would be more suitable. However the findings of our research are still useful to those who develop strategies for investigating art-related crimes, and for further academic research.
From the introduction:
Art crimes are most often defined as “criminally punishable acts that involve works of art” (Conklin, 1994, p. 3). Passas & Proulx (2011, p. 52), are more detailed: “... subsumed under the rubric of art crime are such activities as diverse as art thefts and confiscations, vandalism, faked and forged art, illicit excavation and export of antiquities and other archaeological material.” We list these definitions of art crime simply because most countries also penalize criminal acts against art and cultural heritage in such a broad sense. Without a doubt, such broadness limits the research of art crime, as individual acts are lost in the statistics of property crime, under which art crime falls. One can only examine the rough numbers of the frequency with which art crime occurs per year. Only in notorious cases do we have more data, but the majority of data remains uncollectable1 or, as is the case in Slovenia, it isn’t consistent, as determined by Vučko (2012) in her study. She noticed that there are severe discrepancies between annual data about art crime that the General Police Directorate gives to the public, to researchers, and that which was published elsewhere (ibid). Dobovšek, Charney, & Vučko (2009) see one of the reasons why criminologists and criminalists aren’t keen on empirical studies of art crime, in the fact that even though there are extensive art crime databases kept by INTERPOL, the FBI, and private organizations, these are sometimes hard to access. Moreover, because of social and, mainly legal, specifications of different countries, the available data only enables country-by-country analysis (Durney & Proulx, 2011).
Bojan Dobovšek is Associate Professor and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Slovenia. Boštjan Slak is a postgraduate student at the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Slovenia. 

Design for this issue and all issues of The Journal of Art Crime is the work of Urška Charney. Here's a link to ARCA's website on The Journal of Art Crime (includes Table of Contents for previous issues).