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Police recover 2 stolen paintings by Dutch masters and return them to Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum
This photo provided by the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum in the central town of Leerdam, Netherlands, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011, shows a painting entitled "Two laughing boys" by Frans Hals. Police say they have recovered two Dutch master paintings, five months after thieves stole them from a provincial museum. The 17th-century paintings, one by Frans Hals and the other by Jacob van Ruisdael, are being handed back to the museum. AP Photo/Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden Museum.
THE HAGUE (AP).- Police recovered two stolen paintings by Dutch masters and handed them back Thursday to the provincial museum they were stolen from five months ago. Three suspects are in custody, police said.

The 17th-century paintings, a depiction of two laughing boys by Frans Hals and a forest landscape by Jacob van Ruisdael, were snatched from the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum in the central town of Leerdam in late May.

The thieves triggered a burglar alarm, but had fled the building before police arrived. A search of the area immediately after the theft turned up only the frame of one of the paintings that had been dumped in a hedge.

A new tip about the paintings' whereabouts led to their discovery on Oct. 28, police said in a statement. A fourth suspect is on the run, police said.

Police have not estimated the value of the paintings, but called them valuable parts of the country's "cultural heritage."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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