The sharp rise in applications for metal detector permits is an indicative sign. However, a permit is only given to people with no criminal record and after the approval of the Ministry of Culture.
“We need more staff, more people,” said Evgenios Monovasios, a lieutenant in the Security Police Division of Attica. He estimated that in all of Greece there are only about 60 employees who work exclusively to prevent and disrupt looting. While cooperation with local authorities across the country expands this capacity, it’s difficult to monitor more than a fraction of the country’s vast and varied landscape, which ranges from the mountainous north to hundreds of islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas.
There are also cases where the looters do direct “custom orders” for collectors. The illegal artifacts circulate around the globe and they go from one private collection to another with misleading documentation in different parts of the world so they give the impression of legitimacy.
According to the report, recent antiquities trafficking cases range from Byzantine manuscripts stolen from a monastery at Mount Athos and recovered from the Getty Museum and Duke University in 2014 and 2015 to a cache of neolithic Cycladic figurines, vessels, and statue parts confiscated in Attica in 2011 with an estimated value of almost twenty million euros.