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Maida Vale book thief jailed

PUBLISHED: 13:12 20 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:03 07 September 2010

A NOTORIOUS book thief dubbed the Tome Raider was jailed for 42 months today for ransacking titles worth £40,000 from one of the country s leading antiquarian collections. Cambridge graduate William Jacques, 41, formerly of Maida Vale, had been banned f

A notorious book thief dubbed the 'Tome Raider' was jailed for 42 months today for ransacking titles worth £40,000 from one of the country's leading antiquarian collections.

Cambridge graduate William Jacques, 41, formerly of Maida Vale, had been banned from libraries throughout the UK following an audacious crime spree which saw him plunder £1m worth of rare volumes from shelves.

But after his release from jail, he used a fake name to gain access to the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley Library - home to thousands of precious imprints dating back as far as 1514.

Individual plates fetch thousands of pounds at auction in America or the Far East.

He was able to slip out of the library with 13 volumes of a 19th century botanical study of Camellias by hiding them under his tweed jacket.

Staff only realised what was happening when they noticed that the 'Nouvelles Iconographies Des Camellias' by the Belgian botanist Ambroise Verschaffelt had vanished from the library.

The encyclopedia has never been recovered.

Jacques was arrested in the library after staff became suspicious of his behaviour.

In his pocket was a 'thieves' shopping list' containing details of more than 70 works from the Lindley's collection, including rare early editions of works by Charles Darwin and painter Edward Lear.

Following his release on bail, Jacques went on the run for two-and-a-half years. Officers finally tracked him down to his mother's house in Selby, North Yorkshire on Christmas Day last year.

He has never revealed his true address, and investigators believe he may have hoarded the rare treasures he stole in a secret location.

Jacques was jailed for three-and-a-half years today after he was found guilty of theft following a week long trial at Southwark Crown Court last month.

The judge, Mr Recorder Michael Holland, QC, told him: 'It seems to me, given your lack of remorse and your behaviour in relation to this case that you have absolutely no intention of turning away from what seems to you to be an extremely lucrative and easy crime.


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