A treasure trove of 240 rare books valued at over $ 3.3 million have been returned to their owners after they were stolen in London by a gang of Romanian men who rappeled from a warehouse ceiling to avoid raising the alarm.
The men detained in the UK last month have been dubbed the “Mission: Impossible” gang by British media for their acrobatic technique, reminiscent of a famous scene from the 1996 film in which Tom Cruise was on a rope in a Vault is lowered.
Ancient books considered to be of international cultural importance include works by English scientist Isaac Newton and Spanish artist Francisco Goya that reference the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, according to the Metropolitan Police.
The break-in took place in January 2017 at a warehouse in Feltham, West London, where the books belonging to specialist retailers and shipped from Italy and Germany were being stored en route to a US book fair.
After the burglars cut holes in the perimeter fence to gain access to the warehouse, they cut holes in skylights in the roof and perched on shelves to avoid activating sensor alarms on the doors.
The break-in was one of twelve break-ins carried out by the gang linked to the Clamparu organized crime group in the Iasi region of eastern Romania in various locations in the UK over a period of two and a half years.
In carefully planned operations, gang members flew into the country to commit break-ins and flew out shortly afterwards. Twelve of them were jailed for terms ranging from three years to eight months to five years and eight months.
The London Metropolitan Police worked on the case with colleagues in Romania and Italy for over three years.
After the books were discovered hidden underground in a house in Romania, they were taken to the country’s national library in Bucharest, where four of the five owners traveled to retrieve them last month.
“It was nice to see the joy of each victim reunited with these irreplaceable books,” said Detective Inspector Andy Durham, adding that one of the booksellers, Alessandro Bado, had declared with great enthusiasm, “Tonight we drink like lions . “
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