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Collectors beware! Thefts from collections are not usually like the movie versions showing armed bandits or clever thieves squirming past security system light beams. The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg had a routine audit of the collection and found over 220 pieces of jewelry and metalwork-- millions of dollars worth-- missing. A tip from a dealer led police to a suspect who was married to the curator of the department. The pieces had been taken during the past six years. It is claimed that art thefts are committed by insiders in 80 percent of the museum thefts. So it should be no surprise that individual collectors face the same danger. Remodeling crews, cleaning help, repair people or health aides should not be left alone with valuable collectibles. Even babysitters can be tempted to take valuables. Always get references.

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