FBI Unveils App to Combat Stolen Cultural Property, Following Interpol's Lead
In a bid to enhance the identification of stolen cultural property, curb illicit trafficking, and boost the recovery of stolen artworks and artifacts, the FBI has unveiled a mobile app as part of their National Stolen Art File (NSAF) initiative
Established in 1979, the FBI's NSAF was designed to enable law enforcement agencies to report and catalog stolen art and cultural property. To date, over 8,000 items have been registered in the database, which has proved invaluable in enabling the public to freely search for and identify stolen items.
"While the app was primarily created with law enforcement and art-industry partners in mind, anyone can use it to verify that art or antiquities they own or are looking to buy aren't actually stolen property", the FBI said in its press release.
The NSAF app, launched on April 10th, primarily targets law enforcement and art-industry partners, but is accessible to anyone wishing to ensure that the art or antiquities they own or intend to purchase are not stolen property. The app, which is free to download and use, features search and filter functions that classify art according to description, location, and genre, and offers sharing capabilities for spreading awareness and submitting tips directly to the FBI.
The FBI's app is a follow-up to a similar initiative by Interpol, which rolled out the ID-Art app in 2021. The ID-Art app grants public access to Interpol's Stolen Works of Art database, which contains over 52,000 artworks, and facilitates reverse-image searches to assist users in identifying pieces whose names are unknown.
Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock lauded the ID-Art app upon its release, stating:
"In recent years, we've witnessed the unprecedented ransack by terrorists of the cultural heritage of countries arising from armed conflict, organized looting, and cultural cleansing. This new tool is a significant step forward in enhancing the ability of police officers, cultural heritage professionals, and the general public to protect our common heritage."
The NSAF app is the first of its kind to be developed by a U.S. law enforcement agency, marking a milestone for American citizens eager to join the fight against heritage crimes.