Bookseller who stole signed Harry Potter book worth £1,675 avoids jail | London

A bookseller who stole a signed Harry Potter edition worth £1,675 in a professional, targeted operation has avoided jail.

Rudolf Schonegger, 55, snatched the rare copy of Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, signed by author JK Rowling, at Hatchards in Piccadilly, on New Year’s Eve.

CCTV showed him browsing the shop before making an audacious switch with another novel while a staff member had her back turned. A copy of Late Call by Angus Wilson was found in the place of the Potter book.

He was found guilty of theft and two charges of handling stolen goods following a trial at Hendon Magistrates’ Court last week.

During a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, the defendant was given a 26-week custodial sentence for the theft, suspended for 24 months, and four week sentences for each other charge to run concurrently, also suspended for 24 months.

He will also have to perform 150 hours of unpaid work, the court ruled.

He was ordered to pay Hatchards £1,675, and booksellers Peter Ellis and Peter Harrington, who bought the stolen goods, a total of £410 for money lost.

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