After three years of search, rare books worth millions of pounds have been found buried under the floor at an address in Romania.
Police investigations involving raids on 45 different addresses across three countries has led to charges against 13 people. The 200 books which were recovered by the officers include Newton and Galileo first editions and have a market value of more than £2.5 million.
The million pound worth of books had been stolen from a postal transit warehouse in Feltham in the month of January in 2017 bound for a specialist book auction in Las Vegas.
DI Andy Durham said: “These books are extremely valuable, but more importantly they are irreplaceable and are of great importance to international cultural heritage.”
In order to avoid sensors that would set off alarms, two men, Daniel David and Victor Opariuc, broke in by cutting holes into the warehouse roof.
In the early hours, the two smuggled the books in 16 holdalls and left with the third man, Narcis Popescu, who had waited in the car. After some time the vehicle which had been cleaned with bleach was found abandoned.
The police used a DNA sample, which escaped the clean-up to track down the culprits to Neamt in north-east Romania.
Metropolitan Police said the recovery of the rare books was ” a perfect end to this operation” and a tribute to the cooperation between British, Romanian and Italian police.