Last Wednesday, about 200 “priceless” books were found buried beneath a house in Neamt, Romania. Despite the fact these books are described to be “priceless”, the books were en route to Las Vegas for a specialist book auction when they were stolen back in 2017.
To give you all a good idea of why these books are “priceless”, though, some of the stolen cargo includes first edition works by Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and Francisco Goya, in addition to other rare books. According to a statement given by London’s Met Police, the recovered books have a combined value of over £2.5 million, equivalent to about $3.5 million.
Andy Durham, a Detective Inspector from London’s Metropolitan Police, said that “these books are extremely valuable, but more importantly they are irreplaceable and are of great importance to international cultural heritage.”
According to reports from the original burglary, the books were being stored in a warehouse in Feltham (a town in West London) before they would be shipped to Las Vegas for the auction. Two men cut holes into the roof of the warehouse and abseiled down, avoiding setting off any sensors and allowing them to spend hours picking through their options. The two filled up sixteen bags with books and then went back out the way they came in.
The MPS, the Romanian National Police, the Italian Carabinieri, as well as Europol and Eurojust have been running investigations for three years since the books were stolen, ultimately leading to the uncovering of the books in eastern Romania. They were only able to build this investigation surrounding a small bit of DNA which was found on the headrest of the getaway car. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the car had been doused with bleach before the men abandoned it.
Investigations also lead authorities to believe that the men who stole the books are connected to the Clamparu crime group in Romania, which organizes high profile thefts in other countries. Luckily, though, the books have been recovered and hopefully with minimal damage.