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BooksEuropol has broken up an international gang of thieves of valuable antiquarian...

Europol has broken up an international gang of thieves of valuable antiquarian books

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Europol announced in The Hague that a gang of experienced thieves of valuable antiquarian books had been broken, DPA reported.

Nine Georgians have been arrested during actions in Georgia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and France, the law enforcement agency of the European Union announced.

The gang was responsible for the theft of at least 170 books, causing about 2.5 million euros ($2.7 million) in damage and “immeasurable legacy loss to society,” Europol said.

Some of the books were auctioned in St. Petersburg and Moscow, “making them virtually irretrievable,” the EU law enforcement agency added.

Thieves have focused on rare books by Russian authors such as first editions of Pushkin and Gogol.

About 100 agents were deployed in Georgia and Latvia, searching 27 locations. They seized 150 books to check their provenance.

Describing the gang’s modus operandi, Europol said the thieves visited libraries asking to see the antiquarian books, then photographed and carefully measured them.

Weeks or even months later, they return with a similar request, this time to exchange painstakingly crafted copies for the antiquarian books.

Experts have found that the copies were of exceptional quality.

In other cases, they simply break in to steal the books they’ve checked out in the past.

The international investigation began after a request for information from France prompted other countries to report stolen books.

Illustrative Photo by Suzy Hazelwood: https://www.pexels.com/photo/stacked-books-1333742/

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