Rare books found buried underground in NE Romania were stolen from a warehouse in London
The rare books and manuscripts the Romanian policemen and prosecutors found during a house search in Neamt county last week were stolen from a warehouse in London, during a sophisticated burglary in 2017.
The books, which include works from the 17th century by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, and the 18th-century Spanish painter Francisco Goya, are worth more than GBP 2.5 million.
A total of 237 books were discovered in Neamt county last week, buried underground in a garage, according to Emil Tudor, the head of the International Judicial and Police Assistance Service within the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the Romanian Police.
"They were found in an annex of a building in the rural area of Neamt county, respectively in the lower part of a garage. They were stored in a hidden space under the floor, packed in several packages, and some of them even deposited in two bins. Fortunately, the books, which have a very high value estimated at about GBP 2.5 million, […] are still in a relatively good condition," Emil Tudor said, according to News.ro.
He also explained that the books are currently in the Romanian authorities' custody and will be evaluated before being returned to the owners.
The old books were stolen in January 2017 from a warehouse in the UK. They were coming from Italy and were stored in London before being sent to Los Angeles for an exhibition. The thieves, Romanian citizens from the counties of Suceava, Iasi and Neamt, members of an organized crime group, entered the warehouse through the roof, during the night, Emil Tudor also said. Then, they transported the cultural treasure back to Romania.
Tudor also explained that the investigation started in early 2017 after prosecutors from the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) opened a case based on information that the thieves were Romanian citizens. In the first phase, the investigation benefited from international police cooperation in parallel, with support from Europol and Eurojust.
"Following these activities, also during 2017, an agreement was signed for a joint investigation team between Romanian magistrates and magistrates from the UK, so the joint activities that took place mainly in Romania started. Later, colleagues from Italy joined the joint investigation team," Emil Tudor said.
In a previous press release, the Romanian Police said that on June 25, 2019, police officers and DIICOT prosecutors carried out 28 searches in Romania, as part of an action that also took place simultaneously in the UK and Italy, to dismantle the crime group. The searches at that time took place in the counties of Iasi, Neamt, Suceava, Brasov, Bihor, and Bucharest. Members of this crime group were suspects in investigations related to thefts from companies and warehouses located mainly in the UK, but also other EU countries.
The Police discovered several goods and documents at that time. Four people were detained by the Romanian Police, while three were held based on European arrest warrants issued on their names.
Within the joint investigation team, similar actions were carried out in Italy and the UK.
(Photo source: Diicot.ro)