The Guardian reports on a highly unusual case of burglary.
Antiquarian books worth more than £2m have been stolen by a gang who avoided a security system by abseiling into a west London warehouse.
The three thieves made off with more than 160 publications after raiding the storage facility near Heathrow in what has been labelled a Mission: Impossible-style break-in.
The gang are reported to have climbed on to the building’s roof and bored holes through the reinforced glass-fibre skylights before rappelling down 40ft of rope while avoiding motion-sensor alarms.
Scotland Yard confirmed that “a number of valuable books”, many from the 15th and 16th centuries, were stolen during the burglary in Feltham between 29 and 30 January.
According to the Mail on Sunday, one dealer lost £680,000 worth of material. Experts said the most valuable item in the stolen haul was a 1566 copy of Nicolaus Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, worth about £215,000.
Among the other books stolen were early works by Galileo, Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci and a 1569 edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Alessandro Meda Riquier, a rare book dealer, said a number of his volumes had been taken. He told Sky News: “I’m very upset because this is not something you can buy everywhere. Behind these books there is a lot of work because we have to search to try to find out where the books are – auction houses, collectors, colleagues – and there’s big research behind these books.”
He added: “They are not only taking money away from me but also a big part of my job.”
Brian Lake, of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, said: “Nothing like this has hit the rare books trade before.” Authorities have not yet ascertained what will become of the books but it is thought that the most likely scenario is that they were stolen to order.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.