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[BKARTS] Police claim success against book thieves

Police claim success against book thieves


Christchurch police say they have smashed a theft ring which stole rare
books from libraries and collections around the country.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Rae said today police raided 16 Christchurch
properties yesterday and arrested seven people believed to be part of an
extensive group of rare-book thieves.

The raids were the culmination of a five-month police investigation, Mr Rae
said in a statement.

He said police believed up to 12 people were involved in the ring, which had
been operating for several years.

Police allege the groups stole books from Auckland, Waikato, Massey,
Victoria, Otago and Canterbury university libraries, the Canterbury Museum,
the Christchurch City library and the Canterbury Mountaineering Club.

Some of those in the ring were involved in targeting the potentially
valuable books, while others stole the books, processed them, sold them and
laundered the money, Mr Rae said.

Many of the books were available to be borrowed from the libraries, or were
there as reference material.

An example was the Diaries of Captain Cook, stolen from the Invercargill
library in 1998. The valuable diaries were recovered yesterday during the

Police were still trying to receive many of the stolen books, he said.

Yesterday labourer Norman William Holloway, 51, appeared in Christchurch
District Court jointly facing eight charges with Lee John Simpson, 44,
unemployed, of entering a building with intent to commit a crime.

Sickness beneficiary Lionel Barry Quill, 63, faces two counts of entering
with intent to commit a crime, and receiving a $2700 book.

Graham Ottaway, 60, retired, faces two charges of receiving books worth $75
each and seven counts of unlawfully possessing firearms.

All four were remanded on bail without plea to appear again in mid-October.

Bail conditions included a non-association order, a curfew, surrendering
passports and a ban on entering library buildings.

Mr Rae said the other people arrested would appear in court today.

The latest arrests come weeks after police arrested four members of one
family accused of the systematic theft of more than $34,000 worth of
Christchurch City Council library books.

Two of the accused in that case have pleaded guilty while the remaining two
are defending charges.

A police spokeswoman told NZPA the two cases were unrelated.




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