Multiple map thief behind bars
By: thinkSpain , Wednesday, August 12, 2009
A thief, who has already made off with nearly 70 priceless maps and documents from a number of Spanish libraries, and who was arrested by the Guardia Civil on Friday, had planned a route of robberies across the rest of Spain and abroad.
Z.V., a 47-year-old Hungarian, had marked all the libraries he planned to ‘visit’ on a road map, continuing the journey he started in the north of Spain, passing through another 30 or so Spanish cities before moving into Portugal, France and then Italy.
His ‘visits’ to libraries in Soria, Toledo, Valladolid, Logroño and Pamplona had already netted him 67 historic maps and cartographic documents dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries as well as several from the Ptolemaic dynasty of ancient Greece.
All the stolen documents have been recovered from the hotel room in Pamplona, where Z.V. was arrested on Friday.
The thief has no previous criminal record and is currently resident in the Dominican Republic where he works as a second-hand car salesman. Apparently the man had no intention of selling the documents, that he wanted for his own private collection.
The man was prompted to steal historic documents after learning that ten Ptolemaic maps had been stolen from the National Library in Spain in August 2007, believing that if someone else had done it, he could too.
After getting hold of false documentation accrediting him as a historical investigator, he set about manufacturing plastic cutting tools, using credit cards and shirt collar stiffeners to get around the metal detectors at the library entrances.
Once inside the map rooms, he cut the documents out and smuggled them out in home-made folders with false bottoms.
The man, who is now in prison, was accompanied by his Dominican partner, who has not been arrested because there is no evidence that she was involved in the robberies.
The police operation, codenamed ‘Operación Biblión’ began in March 2008, when a map dating back to 1537 was stolen from the Real Biblioteca in the San Lorenzo Monastery in Escorial (Madrid). The thief was eventually tracked down thanks to hotel records in the towns where he had stolen.