Crown Court Declares Horticultural Book Thief Guilty

Posted on June 23, 2010


William Jacques, arrested on Christmas Day in 2009 in North Yorkshire, has been deemed guilty of the theft of 13 rare books valued at £40,000.  The Southwark Crown Court found he stole the Nouvelle Iconographies des Camellias from the Royal Horticultural Society’s library in central London.

Jacques was denominated the “Tome Raider” (I couldn’t make this stuff up) after he stole £1m of rare books in the late-1990s.  He was sentenced to 4 years for these crimes.  Not to be deterred, he began stealing books again upon release, and the incident dates here range from June 2004 to March 2007.

The books contain plates of camellias by 19th century Belgian author Ambroise Verschaffelt. Jacques would sign in under a false name, then slip the books under a tweed jacket and bolt.  Jacques studied at Cambridge University and was a member of the British Library and London Library, so the crime was described by the prosecution as a “systematic, carefully planned theft committed by a man who knew precisely what he was doing.”

The volumes have not been recovered.  The court has elected to suspend sentencing until July so that Jacque could “reflect on his situation and… consider revealing the location of the stolen books.”

Read the full article on BBC News: Man guilty of antique horticultural book theft.

Can’t get enough? Check out my article: Thieves Take a Page Out of Rare Books and Manuscripts.