Thousands of archeological artifacts were found this week at the home of a resident of northern Israel who suspectedly stole them from historical sites.
During a search of the Afula property with the help of local police, Israel Antiquities Authority inspectors found ancient bronze, silver and gold coins; ancient weapons, including spearheads; seals with Greek inscriptions and many other artifacts.
Authorities first launched an investigation into the matter after receiving a tip about an illicit trafficking operation of cultural goods. Several international law enforcement bodies were also involved in the investigation.
The investigation found the suspect used to scour through archeological sites around the country in search of antiquities using a metal detector.
The suspect's excavations at the sites damaged archaeological strata and evidence while removing them from their historical and cultural context.
Some artifacts were smuggled abroad to the United States where they were put up for auction.
"The man familiar to the Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit and he was even convicted in the past for looting historical sites, but apparently he was not deterred by the punishment and did not learn his lesson," said the head of the Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority Ilan Hadad.
"Now the man, according to suspicion, sought to commit additional crimes, including trading antiquities without a permit and exporting antiquities illegally — both criminal offenses that are punishable by two years in prison.
It's heartbreaking to see how people harm historical sites and loot artifacts, disrupting the reconstruction of the history of all of us for the sake of greed."
The suspect was taken by police for questioning where he admitted to the crimes an indictment is expected to be filed against him.