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National Archives Stolen Documents Case Makes History

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When investigators seeking stolen historical documents from the National Archives showed up to search the apartment of a New York presidential memorabilia collector, they brought just a few boxes — they had no idea what they were in for.

The documents are being called "priceless," and they include handwritten letters and manuscripts from famous individuals like John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, and Benjamin Franklin.

Mitch Yockelson, an investigative archivist with the National Archives, helped look into the case of collector Barry Landau, and says items were found throughout the home.

"We found what appeared to be documents of historic value all over the place — in his bedroom, in his kitchen area, in his living room," says Yockelson.

He says a letter written by Benjamin Franklin was lying on an ottoman.

"Not only did we have to rent a truck, but we had to go across the street to the office supply store, and we literally bought them out of file boxes."

Yockelson says when he walked into the apartment, he had no idea that thousands of documents would be uncovered.

"This ultimately turned out to be what we believe is what largest theft of historical documents, literally in history."

Landau and his assistant, Jason Savedoff, are both serving prison sentences.

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