Thieves steal rare 19th century books from University of Tartu library

University of Tartu reading room.
University of Tartu reading room. Source: Krista Aru / University of Tallinn Library

Thieves stole eight rare books, with a combined estimated value of around €76,000, from the University of Tartu's library earlier this year, regional daily Tartu Postimees reports.

The books dated to the 19th century and were replaced with forgeries, which meant the crime remained undetected between April and August, the daily writes (link in Estonian.)

It may be one such incident out of several, to have taken place in the Baltic States and Poland.

"In April, two men, one older and one younger, entered the reading room at the University of Tartu's department of manuscripts and rare books, claiming a desire to study the organization of censorship and printing policy in early 19th-century Russia," Tartu Postimees reports.

"Once they had [consulted the books] for a 10-day period they left, having exchanged eight rare books with well-made forgeries," the daily added, reporting that the crime was only spotted several months later, in August.

Similar thefts have hit Latvia's national library, where works by Nikolai Gogol and Alexander Pushkin were targeted, and are suspected to have taken place in Warsaw as well, though no arrests have been made to date, Tartu Postimees reports.

Whether Dostoevskys "Crime and Punishment" is among the thieves' haul has not been reported.

The original article (in Estonian) is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

Source: Tartu Postimees

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