300 year-old stolen bible recovered after year-long hunt

In December 2011, a beautifully-illuminated, 300-year-old German bible was among items lost in a truck theft. Though the thieves were caught, they had already gotten rid of it. It took a year of detective work to track it down. Holly Zachariah of The Columbus Dispatch:

A few weeks ago, one of Shier’s cousins saw a notation about an old German Bible on the website ancestry.com. It described the book in detail. She called Shier, and he called the Union County sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s detectives enlisted the help of Goodwill, which had sold the Bible online, and tracked it first to Louisiana and then to Georgia. But the couple who had bought it wouldn’t send it back without the $405 they had paid for it.

Seems odd that the buyer was allowed to keep (and ransom) stolen goods.


      1. Someone found it in the trash, donated it and then goodwill sold it in good faith.  Who knows how many hands it passed through before it got to goodwill.  There has to be some cutoff point after which possession of stolen goods is no longer a problem.  Otherwise you could never safely accept dollar bill that didn’t come straight off the presses.  And goodwill could accept nothing at all.  Now, if they asked for more than what they paid for it, that’s a bit more churlish.
        edit: I meant to reply to TheOven, not EH.

        1. For that matter as the receiver and seller of stolen goods, goodwill could refund the money to secure the bible; and maybe they would have had a better solution not presented itself. Good for the Fraternal Order of Police, who it could be said gave a $405 donation to the goodwill.

        2. “There has to be some cutoff point after which possession of stolen goods is no longer a problem.”

          Why? You’re still playing hot potato with stolen goods, especially if you demand full price.

        3. If you’ve done due diligence (which may be very minimal), then you’re unlikely to face charges.  But if you paid money for someone else’s property, you still have to give it back without being compensated for your losses.

          Angela Merkel discovered a couple of weeks ago that the carpet in her office is Nazi loot.  Ouch.

  1. Of all the ironic things to be uncharitable about this couple wasn’t willing to return a stolen bible unless they got their cash.

  2. It’s not ransoming stolen goods. It’s “return our money or we’ll make sure you get charged with _selling_ stolen goods.” Which strikes me as mostly reasonable; no reason for the last legitimate purchaser to take the financial hit.

    Of course, it isn’t clear how anyone could have thought this was anything but…

  3. Actually, you can never legally “own” a stolen item, no matter how many times it’s been sold, no matter if it was purchased “in good faith.” If it was stolen at some point, and the original owner can demonstrate that it was stolen, that’s all she wrote. I guess you could pay the ransom to avoid the hassle of having to get a court order to return it, but that’s it.

  4. What MTDutch101 wrote is exactly right. Though the law has provisions of for “bona fide purchasers for value” and the like you cannot generally obtain more title than the seller had (which is none if it’s stolen). Georgia law — the folks who had it were in Georgia — provides that when you receive stolen property from another state and should know it’s stolen then it is the crime of receiving stolen property. Ga. Code. Ann. 16-8-8. The intent matters. Of course, no one is going to pursue it — the amount is too small.

  5. It seems the only one who profitted on this was Goodwill. If I paid $400 for something at Goodwill and they wanted me to retiurn it I would hope to get my money back as well. Why should Goodwill stand to make a profit from stolen goods without question?

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