One of the eight Renaissance bronze plaques stolen.

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The Italian Renaissance bronzes, all dating from the mid 15th to the early 16th century, were stolen during opening hours of December 29 when thieves forced open one of the wooden framed showcases.

The diminutive plaques, each about 4in (10cm) high, were made by Riccio, Moderno and the workshop of Donatello. They all depict religious scenes.

The two versions of the Entombment by Riccio were the most valuable of those taken, worth around £100,000 and £150,000. The bronzes from the workshop of Donatello comprised two depictions of the Virgin and Child and one of the Holy Family. The three scenes by Moderno were of the Crucifixion, the Entombment and the Resurrection.

The latest raid mirrors the two thefts in November and October when 15 Meissen figures and nine Chinese jades were stolen from the V&A's Ceramic Galleries. The incident suggests that the same gang, or individual, is targeting portable objects kept in old timber cases in areas not covered by security cameras and at times of the day when the museum is quiet.

Since it would appear that the items are being stolen to order, the antiques trade is being urged to be vigilant in looking out for these objects, as they are likely to passed on through a fence.

The director of the V&A, Mark Jones, said: "This appears to have been a well-planned and professional theft. The V&A is in the middle of a major programme to upgrade security and replace old display cases with new cases throughout the museum and many galleries have been completed."

The theft of the Chinese jades in early October prompted a security review and an immediate doubling of the number of patrolling guards. However, the newly ordered security system was not installed in time to prevent the Meissen theft in November.
In response to the latest break-in Mark Jones said: "This theft underlines the need to proceed as rapidly as possible. We are talking to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport about how the process of upgrading security can be accelerated."