by Walt Hunter

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CHERRY HILL, N.J., (CBS) — An exclusive CBS 3 report reveals the FBI — and one of their retired art theft experts — are now teaming up in the search for a rare Norman Rockwell painting that was stolen more than three decades ago from a Cherry Hill, N.J. home.

The illustration, that appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in September, 1919, was stolen in a burglary at the Grant family home in June, 1976. John Grant and his sister, Sue, say when their father died in 2004, they vowed to keep searching for the painting that was part of their family for many years.

The Grants say the Rockwell masterpiece, valued at $600,000, always hung in their home, and can be seen in pictures of family gatherings, going back to their childhood. Their father, they say, never gave up looking for it, speaking with police departments and art galleries nationwide.

To help in their search, the Grants enlisted former FBI art theft expert Bob Bazin, who solved many major thefts during his service with the Bureau. Bazin, who began going through original police reports, contacted his former fellow agents, getting the FBI’s Art Crime Team on the case.

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Bazin says he believes there is a very strong possibility that the Rockwell painting is still in the area, perhaps in the home of someone who doesn’t know it is stolen.

John Cosenza, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office, says he too believes there is a good chance the painting is still in the area. The FBI’s Art Crime Team, he points out, established in 2004, has recovered more than 2,650 items valued at over $150 million.

While the Rockwell painting is a valuable art treasure, the Grants say getting back a piece of art that means so much to their family, would truly be priceless.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI’s Philadelphia Office, 215-418-4000, or contact Bazin directly at 609-933-2042.

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