Police have suspicions that the Christ Church art thief may have escaped by boat through the meadows and down the river following the late-night heist. The burglar stole three high-value paintings from Christ Church Picture Gallery on Saturday night.

Thames Valley Police is re-appealing for information, pursuing a line of enquiry “that the offenders could have used a boat as a vehicle to access and leave the site”.

Burglars broke into Christ Church picture gallery near Oriel Square at 11pm on Saturday night, stealing three paintings from the 16th and 17th century, including a prized piece by renowned Dutch painter Sir Anthony van Dyck.

The police have said that “This is just a hypothesis at this time, but we would like to hear from anyone who has had their boat stolen recently or has noticed any unusual activity around where their boats are docked.”

They are also making a plea for any information, saying “We are initially asking people with boats based on the River Cherwell or the River Thames near Oxford to get in touch if you have noticed any unusual activity. If you saw anything unusual on these rivers on Saturday night, we would also ask you to get in touch. Also, please make a report if you find any abandoned boats which have appeared since the early hours of Sunday morning.”

Students have commented that they witnessed suspicious activity on Saturday night outside Christ Church. One student said they saw a “guy on a motorcycle dressed in all black circling near Canterbury gate.” The student went further to say that the individual seemed like he was looking for ways into the college.

Investigating officer Detective Inspector James Mather, based at St Aldates police station, said: “We are thoroughly investigating this burglary and we would like the public’s help to get as much information as possible”.

The following day helicopters and police circled Christ Church, and it was closed to non-members.

This comes the week following the reporting of between £1000 and £2000 worth of wine mysteriously disappearing from Christ Church’s wine cellar. The college has hired a lawyer and launched an investigation for this puzzle.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the force on 101, or make a report online using the reference 43200087031, or anonymously through Crimestoppers.

Phoebe Hennell

Phoebe Hennell is co-founder of The Oxford Blue, and former Managing Director. She is reading Philosophy and Modern Greek at Christ Church, and is on her year abroad in Athens.