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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Threat to destroy stolen Enigma
Bletchley Park Museum
The machine was stolen from Bletchley Park Museum
Police investigating the disappearance of one of the last remaining Enigma code-breaking machines say they are baffled by the latest correspondence from the person claiming to own it.

After a series of letters, in which the anonymous man said he bought the device in good faith, he now says the Enigma will be destroyed.


We have offered to negotiate

Christine Large, Bletchley Park Trust
The typewriter-sized machine, used for decoding Nazi messages during the Second World War, was stolen from Bletchley Park Museum in Buckinghamshire in April.

Bletchley Park Trust began receiving letters earlier this month, from a man who claimed he was acting on behalf of someone who had bought the machine, without realising it was stolen.

Code word

The man - who signs each letter with a code word - has been demanding a five-figure sum to compensate the buyer for returning the machine.

enigma machine
The machine is one of only three in existence
The trust has now received another letter - signed with the code word - announcing that the negotiations are over and the machine will be destroyed.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Chesterman of Milton Keynes CID, who is leading the investigation, said: "Having purchased the Enigma for a large sum of money and then stating an intention to return it to its rightful place, I find it hard to accept that such a person would be prepared to destroy the machine.

"I can see no reason for the threats made in this latest communication. If the author is prepared to contact me personally I believe I can provide the reassurances he requires."

'Incomprehensible'

Joining the appeal, Bletchley Park Trust director Christine Large said the trust was prepared to negotiate a deal with the buyer.

"This is incomprehensible," she said. "We want to do business with the person and have offered to negotiate.

"The offer is on the table - come and talk to us."

This is the fourth letter to be sent to the trust. Unlike the previous three, all posted in the Midlands, it was sent from west London.

It states: "I have been instructed to inform you that negotiations for the return of the G312 are hereby terminated, and further, that the machine will now be destroyed."

G312 is the serial number of the machine, which has been valued at up to 100,000 by experts.

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