Book thief had "shopping list" of rarities, court told
LONDON (Reuters) - A Cambridge graduate drew up a "thief's shopping list" before stealing antique books worth 40,000 pounds from a world-famous library, a court heard on Tuesday.
William Jacques, 41, of no fixed address, is accused of pre-planning the theft of rare volumes from the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley library in London.
The library holds books, journals, pictures and art on practical gardening, garden history, plants and design dating back to 1514.
Jacques denies one count of theft relating to 13 valuable volumes missing from the library, the Press Association reported.
He is accused of having taken the books some time between June 2004 -- when an audit of the books was last undertaken -- and March 2007.
Gino Connor, for the prosecution, said when Jacques was stopped and searched by police on one of his visits they found an A4 piece of paper with the names of 70 volumes of rare books, all kept at the library.
Connor told Southwark Crown Court the document amounted to a "thief's shopping list."
The books on the piece of paper were listed in sequential order as to where they could be found in the library, he said.
Notes were also made as to their valuation and whether they included maps and plates --- which he told jurors could be removed and sold separately.
"This tends to suggest that there was a great deal of pre-planning," Connor said.
The prosecution said Jacques used a false name to sign in to the library in Vincent Square, central London.
He would then leave after stuffing valuable volumes of Nouvelle Iconographies des Camellias by Ambroise Verschaffelt under a tweed jacket he would always wear on such visits, jurors heard.
"We are not dealing with Penguin books, we are dealing with very valuable books," Connor told the court.
He said the crime was a "systematic, carefully planned theft committed by a man who knew precisely what he was doing."
Jacques, the prosecutor said, was highly intelligent, studied at Cambridge and was a member of both the British Library and the London Library.
He said the defendant had an understanding of rare books.
Staff became suspicious after noticing that Jacques would always wear the same clothes -- a tweed jacket and glasses -- the court heard.
On one occasion the defendant "was seen to place something inside his jacket and walk away with his left arm stiff against his jacket as if holding something."
The prosecutor added: "It was rather crude, but it was effective."
He told the jury Jacques always signed in when visiting the library. But he never signed out, the court heard.
The trial continues.
(Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi)
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