French workmen face charges for stealing hidden treasure

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Évreux (France) (AFP) - Three French workers are to appear before a court on charges of theft after they stole a treasure trove of gold bars and coins from a house they were working on, a local newspaper reported on Monday.

The men had been working on a house in Normandy for several days when they discovered the loot, estimated to be worth more than 900,000 euros ($1.2 million), hidden in jars.

According to the report in regional daily Paris Normandie, the jars contained six gold bars weighing a kilogramme (2.2 lbs) each, and 600 gold $20 coins from 1924 and 1927.

Rather than alert the owner of the house to their discovery, the workers, aged 20, 33 and 40, decided to steal the treasure and sell it to a coin collector in the area.

But tax officials were alerted when one of the men began depositing high-value cheques.

When investigators caught up with them, the men confessed to their crime, the newspaper said.

Police seized several vehicles, motorcycles and hundreds of thousands of euros from the workers as part of the investigation.

The three will appear at a court in Evreux, northwest of Paris, at an unspecified date. The coin collector will also appear before the court on charges of trying to conceal the theft, which he denies.

Interviewed by Paris Normandie, the owner of the house where the gold was found recounted telling the workers jokingly: "If you find any treasure, you tell me!"

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