SALT LAKE CITY – Four early editions of the Book of Mormon stolen in two separate thefts have been recovered, police said Tuesday.
Thirteen historical religious books, including two first editions of the Book of Mormon, published in 1830, were taken last week from the Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum. Two others have been missing since last November when a small safe was reported stolen from the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah.
Early Tuesday, Utah Highway Patrol dispatchers heard from an anonymous caller who said police should check in a mailbox near Granger High School in West Valley City, said patrol Lt. Tony Garcia.
Ad: Vacation? City Trip? Weekend Break? Book Skip-the-line tickets
Inside the box was an envelope with no postage and “attention President Hinckley” – Gordon B. Hinckley is president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – written on the front. Two copies of the Book of Mormon stolen from the museum were inside the envelope, Garcia said.
All 13 rare religious books taken from the Daughters of Utah Pioneers’ Pioneer Memorial Museum last week have now been recovered. The value of the books is thought to be between $800,000 and $1 million, Garcia said.
“We should have them all back and that’s due to some very good officers,” said Edith Menna, the director of the museum.
She said she’s gotten dozens of calls from throughout the country from people who have visited the museum while in Salt Lake City. Some were offering sympathy or expressing dismay; some were rare book sellers hoping to get a description of the thieves so they could keep an eye out; and others were offering help in updating the museum’s security, she said.
Menna said the books would likely be returned this week and once new cases are finished, the books will probably go back on display.
Eleven of the stolen books were recovered Friday when a book store owner told investigators he paid $11,000 for two first editions of the Book of Mormon. He also gave police the seller’s name. Officers traced the man’s driver’s license number and then staked out a Magna home, where they made an arrest and recovered nine more books.
Robert M. Lindsay, 48, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of felony theft and possession of stolen property. He remains in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.
Police are still looking for a second man in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum theft.
Allan Gunnerson, the director of the LDS Institute of Religion, also received good news Tuesday.
Two copies of the Book of Mormon stolen from the institute last fall were recovered at a Midvale home where a SWAT raid was conducted Monday night, said Sgt. Steve Shreeve of Midvale police.
“It was wonderful news. It’s been exciting all day. The faculty is grateful and excited to see them in secure hands,” Gunnerson said.
The books are a 1840 Nauvoo edition and an 1841 Liverpool edition, Gunnerson said. The books are not in perfect condition and are together worth about $20,000, he said.
There have been three thefts of rare Mormon books in Salt Lake City since last fall. Still missing is a second-edition Book of Mormon taken from the Beehive House, the downtown home of former church president Brigham Young.