ART and antiquity crime summons images of dark galleries criss-crossed by lasers, ancient artefacts, ingenious crooks and daring heists. It is not the average felony.

Neither is it strictly the domain of the big screen, and it may be a shock to some that a real-life Indiana Jones has made Scotland her home.

American Dr Donna Yates is a lecturer in Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow, where she has taught since 2012.

Completing her PhD in Archaeology at Cambridge, Yates’s work focuses on the relationship between communities, governments and criminal networks and constructing policy around the regulation of illicit trade. It has taken taken her everywhere from Bolivia, Belize, and Mexico to Nepal, and Greece.

Arriving in Scotland, Yates settled in quickly: “I had a really positive impression of Glasgow immediately without any prior experience beforehand, so I was happy to be coming here. At the time, there was a special office that helped immigrants coming to Scotland, which was free. They helped me with my visa, talked to me on the phone and there was some really warm and useful Scottish support for me.

“I study the transnational illicit trade in antiquities and cultural objects and I also study all crimes related to arts. So, heists, fakes, forgeries and all that kind of stuff. My Twitter bio says I’m an archaeologist in a criminality department, so while my background is in archaeology, I look at the crime aspects of culture.”

Yates’s work focuses on the situational aspects of art crime as well as the impressions of those committing and suffering from it. Her aim is to build a comprehensive understanding of the elements that inspire the theft of anything from amulets to dinosaur bones.

“Mostly it’s been the act and how to stop it from a policy and policing point of view. It’s about understanding the crime and the people who commit the crime and how to respond to it,” Yates explains.

According to Yates, there is a current trend in Britain for pilfering stone from Norman churches to be used in housebuilding. However, there are instances of Hollywood style art crime much closer to home.

“There is an ongoing case regarding a stolen and smuggled golden Greek wreath crown that came through Scotland, and there was an attack on the Dali at Kelvingrove of course, which is an art crime too.

“Interestingly enough – there was a big bust of an international ring of people who were stealing rhinoceros’ horns and Chinese artefacts from museums. Kelvingrove was one of the museums they were planning on stealing from.”

Recently, Yates was awarded a €1.5 million European Research Council starting grant to study how objects influence criminal networks, which includes fossils, and rare and collectible wildlife.

This brings a degree of personal satisfaction given her childhood dream of palaeontology, but it is soon clear that her course is a valuable one for a range of professions.

“A Tarbosaurus [a smaller version of T-Rex] skull can go for millions. There was a crazy case of a Tarbosaur skull being owned by Nicolas Cage,” she laughs.

“I do this work because it’s interesting to study – there’s nothing boring about it. We’ve had museum investigators come through, lawyers, we had a crime writer, one graduate is now an antiquities trafficking analyst for the District Attorney’s Office in New York. There’s a lot of options.”

The greatest treasure in Yates’s life is just around the corner. With a baby boy only a matter of weeks away, she has decided to call Scotland home for her family.

“I naturalised as a Scottish citizen a year ago, I’m in it for the long haul. Our baby is being born here and we are staying here.”

It is a safe bet that Yates Jr will have the best bedtime stories in the country.