Documents returned

Patricia Dockman Anderson, Ph.D., Director of Publications & Library Services of the Maryland Historical Society, thumbs through recently returned historic documents at the H. Furlong Baldwin Library. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun / May 22, 2013)

They brazenly used nail files to remove items from scrapbooks, or as they referred to it, "perform surgery," court documents said. In some cases, they removed inventory markings "by applying sandpaper and other abrasive materials to the document," the documents said.

In addition to marking documents with either a W1 or a W2, Dockman Anderson pointed to several where "shoot" had been scrawled, which she said was code for "steal it."

At one point, Landau had offered cupcakes to employees at the archivists desk. But one employee, suspicious of the men, walked along the balcony overlooking the reading room and spotted Savedoff swiping a text, prompting employees to call police.

One of the items they tried unsuccessfully to make off with was a land grant signed by Abraham Lincoln to a former member of the Maryland militia who served in the War of 1812, which prosecutors had valued at $100,000.

"This is where our crackerjack Saturday crew caught these guys," Dockman Anderson said, as she pointed to the table.

No one has yet requested to view the pilfered documents, Dockman Anderson said. They still remain in the cardboard box investigators used to transport them. Investigators released the items to Dockman Anderson after marking them off on long spreadsheet, she said.

Staff now vigilantly checks guests' folders and notebooks, while other staff make careful checks around the room, searching for any unusual behavior. The chairs at the far end of the table have been removed and patrons are no longer permitted to sit there, nor wear long, bulky jackets inside the reading room, she said.

"We're all a little vigilant," Dockman Anderson said.

She commended investigators for the headway they've made in returning the items. "It's a mammoth, mammoth job."

Several thousand documents still remain in gray boxes on shelves at the National Archives in College Park, waiting to be returned.