The Daily Telegraph reported in a recent article that a Cambridge graduate accused of stealing £40,000 worth of antique books from a library in central London had a shopping list of items he planned to take. All the books that he stole were valuable and very rare and the Crown prosecutor said: ‘it was a systematic, carefully planned theft committed by a man who knew precisely what he was doing’.
Other examples of systemised antiques thefts have occurred when thieves have managed to gain access to large country houses, mainly on open days. They are then able to case the property for ways in and out and scan the contents for the antiques that they want and that they can get rid of easily. Rarely are these thefts opportunistic and thieves will usually have a good idea who will buy them. Obviously small valuable items are always popular as they are easy to take away.
The defendant in this case had been a regular visitor to the library in question for some time. He would wear the same clothes every time he visited the library to smuggle out books which eventually was what aroused suspicion. When the police were called, they found a list of 70 rare volumes on him with indexes of where they could be found in this particular library. The defendant had also made notes on their value and whether they contained maps which could be sold separately.
When buying antique cabinets in Cumbria, Lancashire or across the country, antique dealers will be happy to tell you where their pieces have come from.
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