World $3.2M worth of 'irreplaceable' books discovered buried in Romania after daring 2017 London heist
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Scores of rare books have been recovered in Romania more than three years after criminals absconded with them during a brazen London warehouse caper.
The books, which included works by Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei, wereon Wednesday buried beneath a property in a rural part of Neamt, Romania, according to Sky News.
The tomes were first stolen in January 2017 from a warehouse in Feltham, a town of more than 60,000 in west London. Police said that the thieves cut holes in the roof of the building and avoided motion detectors by entering the warehouse through the handmade openings. They made off with 16 bags filled with some 200 of the “culturally significant” books, which are valued at more than $3.2 million.
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Book dealer Alessandro Meda Riquier said the “jewel” of the stolen books was a 1566 second edition of Nicolaus Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium. That work alone is reportedly worth more than $278,000. Also included in the haul were sought-after editions of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Detective Inspector Andy Durham said the operation to retrieve the historical books was conducted with the help of officers from the United Kingdom, Italy, and Romania. He described finding the buried works of art as “a perfect end” to the recovery effort.
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“These books are extremely valuable, but more importantly, they are irreplaceable and are of great importance to international cultural heritage,” Durham said.
A Romanian organized crime group is suspected of being behind the theft. Police said they believe the crime group is linked to 11 other thefts, resulting in more than $2.5 million in additional stolen goods. Authorities said the thieves typically used the same method of entering through the roof of the building they were burglarizing.
Dozens of properties in the U.K., Italy, and Romania were searched in June of last year as part of the investigation. Twelve of the 13 people charged with crimes related to the burglaries have pleaded guilty and are set to be sentenced next week. The 13th person is scheduled to face a trial in March.
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