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Thousands of New Harry Potter Books Stolen - 2003-06-17

British police say thieves have stolen thousands of copies of the new Harry Potter book from a warehouse in northern England.

The copies of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were in a truck parked at an industrial park near Liverpool.

Police say thieves took the truck Sunday evening. The vehicle was found Monday about 30 kilometers away, minus more than $220,000 worth of books.

The theft occurred less than a week before the eagerly anticipated novel is due to arrive in stores this Saturday.

British police have warned the public that anyone who handles the book before its official launch date may face criminal charges.

Earlier this month, police arrested a forklift operator for stealing pages from the forthcoming novel and trying to sell them to the British Tabloid The Sun.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is J.K. Rowling's fifth Harry Potter book. The previous four novels have sold more than 190 million copies in 55 languages and 200 countries.