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FBI: New leads in 1990 Boston art theft

BOSTON, March 18 (UPI) -- Federal agents say they've identified the thieves involved in the 1990 Isabella Steward Gardner Museum art heist in Boston and now they're looking for the art.

It was one of the largest property crimes in U.S. history, the FBI said Monday in a news release intended to focus attention on the crime, which occurred March 18, 1990.

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The FBI says the thieves have ties to organized crime syndicates in Connecticut and Philadelphia. The bureau is seeking information from anyone who may know the current location of the 13 stolen works of art, which include rare paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

"The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence that in the years after the theft, the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region, and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia, where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft," Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, said in a statement.

"With that same confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the Mid-Atlantic states and New England," he added.

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After the attempted sale, which took place approximately a decade ago, the FBI's knowledge of the art's whereabouts is limited, the FBI said.

DesLauriers said the FBI, along with the museum and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts, is publicizing new details about the case and highlighting the $5 million reward for the return of the art.

"With this announcement, we want to widen the 'aperture of awareness' of this crime to the reach the American public and others around the world," said Anthony Amore, the museum's chief of security. He said the reward is for "information that leads directly to the recovery of all of our items in good condition."

"We simply want to recover our paintings and move forward. Today marks 23 years since the robbery. It's time for these paintings to come home."

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said prosecutors will consider the possibility of immunity from criminal prosecution for information that leads to the return of the paintings. "Our primary goal is, and always has been, to have the paintings returned," Ortiz said in the FBI release.

The publicity campaign announced Monday includes a dedicated FBI webpage -- www.FBI.gov/gardner -- as well as video postings on FBI social media sites, publicity on digital billboards in the Philadelphia region, and a podcast.

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