A VALUABLE painting taken from a Hull museum could have been stolen to order.
The oil by marine artist John Ward hung for years in the Maritime Museum in Queen Victoria Square in Hull until it was prised off a wall by a thief last month.
The council, which is reviewing its security arrangements, believe the theft was planned.
A review of CCTV footage from outside the museum drew ablank. "Somebody knew what they were coming for – we are sure of that", said a spokeswoman for Hull Council.
Paintings by Ward, the leading marine artist and ship portrait painter in Hull during the first half of the 19th century, are sought after.
The painting, The Schooners Ellen Crawford and Dwina of Hull, and dated 1843, is valued at between 5,000 and 7,000.
The council has now removed four other "vulnerable" paintings from the wall of the museum.
Assistant Head of Culture and Lifestyle Simon Green said: "The loss of the painting was quickly noticed as part of our monitoring and reported to the police and put on the Art Loss Register. A claim to our insurers is in progress.
"We constantly review security across our museums service taking advice from insurers, government agencies and police.
"As a small painting it would have been inconspicuous to carry it out and it is a shame that as a security measure we have removed four other paintings of the same size.
"It is sad that we have had to restrict access in this way."
Ferens Art Gallery and Hull Maritime Museum hold many examples of Ward's work. Ward (1798 - 1849) is also exhibited at the National Gallery.