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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Man released after code machine theft
Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park: Centre for wartime code-breaking effort
A 50-year-old man has been released on police bail after being questioned by detectives investigating the disappearance of the Enigma encoding machine.

The man, from Bedfordshire, was arrested on Tuesday and released after questioning at Milton Keynes police station.

Police have mounted a massive search for the historic machine, which cracked the Nazi Enigma code during the Second World War.

It was stolen in broad daylight from a glass cabinet at the Bletchley Park museum on Saturday, where it was on display.

Police officers were preparing to trawl a lake on the estate and search the mansion.

Thames Valley Police spokesman John Brett said: "A search of the mansion and the grounds of Bletchley Park will start under the supervision of a police search adviser and a team of 10 police officers.
Enigma
The missing Enigma machine
"There is a possibility that a Thames Valley Police underwater search unit may be used to search the lake in Bletchley Park.

"It could be hidden under the stairs in the mansion, there are lots of places it could be."

Detectives think the thief could have abandoned the Enigma machine within the 50-acre grounds of the estate, or in one of the 70 rooms in the mansion.

The museum in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was raided in full view of visitors during an open day on Saturday.

The Enigma - one of only three in the world - is worth up to 100,000 and was used by the Germans to encrypt messages sent during the Second World War.

Bletchley Park is believed to have shortened the war by cracking the code.

Detectives were appealing for any visitors on Saturday who took pictures or video footage to contact police in the hope they might identify the thief.

Reward offered

Mr Brett urged whoever stole the machine not to be tempted to destroy the evidence in the light of massive publicity.

He added: "If it's a prank that's gone wrong, don't destroy it because our main priority is getting it back."

A 5,000 reward is being offered by BT, owners of part of the site in Milton Keynes since World War II.

"It is a tragedy that the machine has been stolen," Alan White, director of BT's property division, said.

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