Novel find: Romanian police discover books stolen in $4.4m heist

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Police in Romania have uncovered a number of “irreplaceable” books including first editions of works by Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton.

The books were stolen in a sophisticated 2017 heist from a warehouse in London, police and the European Union’s judicial cooperation agency said.

The stash of some 200 rare and valuable books was discovered on Wednesday (local time) hidden in a concealed space under a house in rural Romania.

London’s Met Police said in a statement that the recovered books have a combined value of more than 2.5 million pounds ($4.4 million).

“These books are extremely valuable, but more importantly they are irreplaceable and are of great importance to international cultural heritage,” Detective Inspector Andy Durham said in a statement.

Bags in a cut-out part of the floor.
Thieves cut a hole in the roof of a London warehouse and abseiled through it to steal the books in 2017.(AP: Romanian Police)

The books were stolen in a raid on a warehouse in west London.

Burglars cut holes in the roof and abseiled down into the building to avoid motion detectors, loaded the books into 16 large bags and clambered back up the ropes to make their getaway through the roof, police said.

A joint investigation involving police from London, Romania and the Carabinieri in Italy, supported by EU agencies Europol and Eurojust in The Hague, identified 11 similar burglaries across Britain, that netted some 2 million pounds ($3.5 million) worth of stolen property.

The Met Police said a Romanian organised crime gang was responsible.

The probe led to a series of raids in the three countries in June 2019 and the arrest of 13 suspects who were later charged in the UK.

The Met said that 12 suspects have pleaded guilty and will face sentencing hearings starting later this month.

The 13th suspect is scheduled to go on trial in March.


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