The antique books, which included works by Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton and Copernicus, were taken in a raid on a London warehouse in 2017. Officers discovered the books underground during a search of a house in the region of Neamț, in north-eastern Romania, on Wednesday.
Rare books worth more than £2.5m that were stolen from a warehouse in west London, have been found buried under the floor of a house in rural Romania.The thieves cut through the roof of the warehouse in Feltham, near Heathrow airport, and abseiled 12m (40ft) to the ground, dodging movement sensors, according to AFP news agency.
The gang is responsible for a series of high-value warehouse burglaries across the UK, London’s Metropolitan police said in a statement. The men were identified as being part of a Romanian organised crime gang.
The recovery of the 200 books, which include first editions of significant works by Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton, is the culmination of a three-year police operation that involved raids on 45 addresses across three countries and led to charges against 13 people.
DI Andy Durham, from the Met Police, told how his team carried out the investigation alongside police in Romania and Italy, Europol and Eurojust. He said, this recovery is a perfect end to this operation and is a demonstration of successful joint working.
The find follows raids on 45 addresses across the UK, Romania and Italy in June 2019, investigators say. Thirteen people have been charged, 12 of whom have already pleaded guilty. Police investigating the raid identified the suspects as being linked to a notorious Romanian crime syndicate named the ‘Clamparu’.
He mentioned “These books are extremely valuable, but more importantly they are irreplaceable and are of great importance to international cultural heritage.”
The works were being stored in a warehouse ahead of being transported to a specialist book auction in Las Vegas, in the US, when they were stolen.
A £215,000 1566 copy of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, by astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, was the most valuable item stolen.
The thieves also made off with a 1565 illustrated edition by Galileo, a 16th-century print of Dante’s Divine Comedy and a 1651 ‘Treatise on Painting’ by Leonardo Da Vinci. A 1505 edition of Aesop’s Fables was among the earliest works stolen.
In addition to the book raid another 11 offenses were uncovered involving a further £2 million worth of stolen property. The group was caught after Romanian police stopped Mamaliga’s van and found about 30 laptops inside without evidence of their purchase.The group was also linked to other successful raids using similar methods, stealing laptops and other electronics worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.