Police in Romania have uncovered a trove of “irreplaceable” books. The rare volumes disappeared in a 2017 heist at a London warehouse. In the coming week, a ring of book thieves will face a judge—and likely have the book thrown at them.
Police discovered the stash of about 200 valuable books last Wednesday. The prized tomes include first editions of works by Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. They were hidden in a concealed space under a house in rural Romania.
Officials from London’s Metropolitan Police say the recovered books have a combined value of more than $3.2 million.
“These books are extremely valuable, but more importantly they are irreplaceable and are of great importance to international cultural heritage,” says London Detective Inspector Andy Durham.
Intruders stole the books in a raid on a west London warehouse. They avoided motion detectors by cutting holes in the roof and descending via rope into the building. The burglars loaded the books into 16 large bags and clambered back up the ropes to make their getaway the same way they came, according to police.
A years-long investigation involved police from Great Britain, Romania, and Italy. The European Union law enforcement agencies Europol and Eurojust also participated. The inquiry identified 11 similar burglaries across Britain. Those thefts netted millions of dollars’ worth of stolen property.
London Police say a Romanian organized crime gang is responsible for the string of heists.
The probe also unearthed a series of raids in the three countries in June 2019—and the arrest of 13 people. Law enforcement in the United Kingdom charged the suspects with involvement in the burglaries.
London police say that 12 of the suspects have pleaded guilty. The accused will face sentencing hearings later this month. The 13th suspect will likely go on trial in March.
Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. — Matthew 6:19, 20
(About 200 stolen rare books sit on a lawn in rural Romania on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Romanian Police-DIICOT via AP)