POLICE who have spent the past year trying to find a solid gold toilet are starting to get desperate.

The 18-carat loo, worth a cool £5m, was ripped out of the floor at Blenheim Palace a year ago today. 

And the investigators have been driven around the bend. 

The five burglars forced their way into the stately home in Woodstock through the front gates and drove onto the courtyard in the early hours of September 14, 2019. 

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They used two stolen cars to pull off the heist, both with cloned ‘66’ plates on. 

Three of them, dressed in dark clothes and wearing balaclavas, then got out of the cars – leaving two getaway drivers at the wheel.

TIMELINE: Every event in the golden toilet investigation so far 

The trio crept inside and found the toilet – a work of art which had only been installed two days earlier, as part of a new exhibition by Maurizio Cattelan.

The squad then ripped out the fully-functioning piece of plumbing from the ground – leaving behind ‘significant damage and flooding’. 

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They carried it back through the palace before loading it into the boot of one of the cars making a dash for freedom before 4.50am. 

Palace managers made the grim discovery shortly afterwards and it was closed to visitors for the rest of the day. 

Thames Valley Police officers arrived minutes later to tape off the scene and begin hunting for the toilet – which has never been found. 

Read more: palace bosses have 'no regrets' after toilet theft 

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Picture: our front page one year on

Fine Art Specie Adjusters (FASA), Blenheim Palace’s insurance company, said up to £100,000 could be paid out as a reward for the safe return of the golden toilet. 

Philip Austin of FASA said the reward was a way of inciting someone to come forward with information or even the toilet itself.

Days after the burglary Mr Cattelan dismissed claims that the theft of the toilet, named America, had been a prank. 

PICTURES: Damage after thieves rip fully-funcitoning loo out of ground

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He has a history of mischievous stunts, and some sceptics said they thought he burglary was an elaborate publicity ploy. 

However, he told the New York Times: “I wish it was a prank. Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet?

“I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action.”

Weeks after the heist, it emerged that, just days before the break-in, priceless heirlooms had been stolen from another stately home in Gloucestershire, just over 30 miles away. 

Thieves broke into Sudely Castle, smashed a display case and stole valuable jewellery and artefacts before making off in a 4X4. 

A personalised Cartier watch and a box full of Edward III diamonds were among the expensive items stolen. 

The force, which has CCTV of the suspects carrying a sledgehammer with chairs and a large bag, appeared for witnesses to the burglary ‘which happened under the cover of darkness’, adding: “Clearly the stolen items are very distinctive and have a great deal of historical, as well as financial, value.”

It has been widely reported that Gloucestershire police said they were ‘open minded’ when it came to linking the burglary to other high-end heists like the one at Blenheim.

Thames Valley police said they could not rule out the involvement of a gang. 

Over the past year, officers have arrested seven people on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy to burgle and handling stolen goods:
•    A 67-year-old man from Evesham has been arrested on suspicion of burglary. 
•    A 35-year-old man from Cheltenham has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle. 
•    A 36-year-old man, a 35-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman, all from Oxford, have been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit a burglary other than a dwelling. 
•    A 36-year-old man from London has been arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods. 
•    A 44-year-old man from Kent has been arrested on suspicion of burglary.

But all of these men and women have been released under investigation and no charges have ever been made.

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