Feltham book heist

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In January 2017, thieves stole rare books worth over £2.5 million from a warehouse in Feltham, west London.


The heist occurred the night of 29 January 2017, at Frontier Forwarding, a customs warehouse in Feltham, near Heathrow in west London, where rare books were stored for postal transit to the 50th Annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Las Vegas.[1][2] Daniel David and Victor Opariuc cut and entered a hole in the facility's fencing and climbed a wall to its roof.[3] In what sources described as a Mission: Impossible-style entrance, they bored holes into the roof's fiberglass-reinforced skylights and rappelled 40 feet down.[4] They avoided the motion detector alarms near the doors by landing on the building's shelving.[3] Over several hours, the thieves worked through six containers, looking for specific rare books and likely working from a list.[1]

The thieves stole over 160 publications, many from the 15th and 16th centuries, including a 1566 edition of Copernicus's De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (alone worth about £215,000), a 1569 edition of Dante's Divine Comedy, a 1651 edition of da Vinci's A Treatise on Painting, a 1777 edition of Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, among other works by Aesop, Euripides, and Galileo.[4][5] The books were worth over £2 million, taken from three separate high-end dealers. Authorities believed the heist was commissioned by specialist collector, as the goods would be impossible to auction based on their unique rarity. A representative of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association said that this kind of heist was unprecedented for their industry,[4] but believed the heist was opportunistic rather than ordered by a specialist.[5]


Over the next three years, police conducted 45 raids across three countries, charging 13 people en route to recovering 200 books beneath the floorboards of a house in rural Romania.[2]

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  1. ^ a b Pedersen, Nate (February 2017). "Thieves Steal Over 160 Rare Books in Major Heist". Fine Books & Collections. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b Bland, Archie (18 September 2020). "Rare books stolen in London heist found under floor in Romania". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b Wilding, Mark (13 December 2020). "Tome raiders: solving the great book heist". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Sandeman, George (12 February 2017). "Thieves steal £2m of rare books by abseiling into warehouse". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  5. ^ a b Liptak, Andrew (15 February 2017). "Thieves steal $2.5 million worth of rare books by Newton, Da Vinci, Dante, and others". The Verge. Retrieved 28 July 2021.

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