Thomas Crown Would Be Totally Disappointed

Today at the Foreign Policy blog, Mike Boyer ponders why it's so easy to steal art in Europe nowadays:

Since 2002, more than $676 million worth of art has been stolen from European museums. Maybe it's just me, but this account of yesterday's art heist in Zurich makes it sound too easy:  Three thieves, wearing dark clothes and ski masks, walked into the Emile B├╝hrle Foundation, a private collection housed a couple of miles outside of Zurich's city center on the shore of Lake Zurich, around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.... While one held a pistol and ordered visitors and staff members to lie on the floor in the main room of the museum, the two other men removed the four paintings from the wall.... Their total worth is estimated at $163 million.... After the theft, the men fled in a white car, with the trunk open and the paintings visible."

Boyer wonders why these "heists" make art theft look easier than robbing a gas station.  Personally, I would have thought that multi-million dollar security systems would have to be in place for these museums to get insurance on expensive works of art.  Maybe the insurers aren't doing their due diligence, making sure there are security guards, automatic gates, alarms and such.  Regardless, it seems to be pretty easy, and it happens pretty often (see the first link cited by Boyer above).  Certainly, these "smash and grab" jobs lack the style or finesse of the beautifully elaborate "Thomas Crown Affair" heist, but they seem equally effective.