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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Appeal to buyer of stolen Enigma machine
Bletchley Park Museum
Bletchley Park Museum: Daring daytime raid
Police investigating the theft of a World War II Enigma encoding machine are appealing for a collector said to have bought it to contact them and negotiate its return.

The typewriter-sized machine is only one of three left in the world and is believed to be worth more than 100,000.

It was stolen from Bletchley Park museum in Buckinghamshire during an open day on 1 April.

A five-figure ransom demand was received earlier this month, but an intermediary has now written to the museum explaining that a new owner has bought the Abwehr G312 machine in good faith.

enigma machine
The machine is one of only three in existence

The collector, through the anonymous intermediary, has indicated to the museum that the machine will be returned if compensation is provided.

Thames Valley Police said that the letter, posted in the Midlands, was the third piece of anonymous correspondence about the machine which had been sent to the museum.

The letter writer said he was acting on behalf of the new owner of the machine, and stressed he wished "to negotiate the return of the Enigma purchased by him in good faith ... and subsequently discovered to have been stolen from the museum premises in Bletchley Park.


"Reports in the press and on TV and radio indicated that the machine has been held to ransom. This was not and never has been the intention of the new owner.

"It's never been about claiming money to which the owner does not feel entitled. It's about his honour being restored."

The machine was one of hundreds used to communicate information between U-boats about Allied shipping.

The police have publicly stated that having acquired the machine in good faith, there is no reason to prosecute you.

Bletchley Park website

The Enigma was used to wreak havoc during the Battle of the Atlantic, and some historians believe that its capture and decoding in 1941 shortened the war by a year.

Bletchley Park has assured the new owner of the machine that having bought the machine in good faith, they will not face prosecution if they come forward.

The message, posted up on its website, stated: "The police have publicly stated that having acquired the machine in good faith, there is no reason to prosecute you.

"The Trust's priority is to get the missing Enigma machine back in good condition. We accept that you will need to be reimbursed for the purchase price."

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Chesterman, who has been leading the investigation, said on Tuesday that the author of the letter "is seeking certain reassurances which I feel I will be able to give if he contacts me directly.

"The overall priority remains the safe return of the Enigma."

Mr Chesterman can be contacted by the buyer on 01908 686000. The caller should quote reference 865 September 19 2000.

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See also:

18 Sep 00 | Europe
UK gives Enigma machine to Poles
12 Sep 00 | UK
Enigma held to ransom
02 Apr 00 | Europe
Enigma machine stolen
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