By Tim Richardson writing in the Financial Times, March 6 2009
Every so often a high-profile example of book theft makes the news. The crime in question does not concern hard-up students helping themselves to textbooks in Foyles. Rather it details cases of premeditated, often audacious, theft of beautiful and rare books.
It also happened in August 2000, when Stanislas Gosse, a 30-year-old former naval officer and engineering tutor, began secretly to plunder the library of the ancient monastery of Mont Sainte-Odile, high in the Vosges mountains of eastern France.
Gosse stole a key and began taking volumes at night from the library, which contains thousands of precious illuminated books. He carried the weightier tomes home on his bicycle. Later he utilised a forgotten secret passage to gain entry to the library.
When Gosse was finally caught red-handed in May 2002, he was trying to get away with three suitcases containing 300 books – at which point he admitted everything. Police raided his flat and found 1,100 historical and religious books and manuscripts meticulously arranged, catalogued and, in some cases, restored. Nothing had been sold.