Man charged with Enigma machine theft

Police crack code to capture Enigma machine suspect, in a plot worthy of a Hollywood movie

A man will appear in court Monday charged with stealing the historic Enigma code machine from a British wartime museum, following a suitably cloak and dagger investigation by authorities.

Dennis Yates, who has been charged with stealing the Enigma G312 device from Bletchley Park museum in April, was snared by investigators who hid messages in newspapers and Web pages and arranged midnight graveyard rendezvous, according to reports.

Bletchley museum director Christine Large was contacted by the holder of the machine in an enigmatic letter in September. It offered the machine in return for a ransom of £28,000. Police successfully negotiated the return of the missing device which was sent unannounced to Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman a month ago.

Three of the machine's rotors -- crucial to encoding messages -- remained missing, however, and the thief threatened to destroy them.

Communicating via codewords hidden in the personal pages of the Sunday Times, a secret page at the Bletchley Park Museum Web site and a video of instructions buried at an unnamed graveyard, police eventually arrested Yates.

The rotors have yet to be recovered.

The device is one of only three the world that were used by Nazi high command during the Second World War to encipher military messages. Bletchley Park was the wartime headquarters of British codebreakers who developed some of the world's earliest mechanical calculating technology.

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