Alleged art thief to face judge Friday 

An art connoisseur whose collection allegedly consisted of dozens of works pilfered from various San Francisco galleries and libraries will face a judge Friday on charges of grand theft.

Police arrested Terry Helbing, 53, at about 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture at the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, according to police. A worker there had recognized Helbing from a burglary in April, in which about $15,000 worth of art was stolen.

Following his arrest, police served a search warrant at the Cambridge residential hotel at 473 Ellis St. early Wednesday morning, where they recovered dozens of paintings and rugs, along with other small pieces of art. The total value is expected to exceed $100,000.

Prosecutors have charged Helbing with possession of stolen property and grand theft from the incident at the botanical garden, but police said that his crime spree was much more prolific.

At Dennis Rae Fine Art gallery at 781 Beach St., the owners believe that police have recovered four or five pieces that were stolen over the last six years.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

 

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