Plot Thickens in 'Harry Potter' Case

05/09/2003 at 11:06 AM EDT

It's beginning to look like the Great "Harry Potter" Heist may have been an inside job.

An employee of the printing company responsible for the British edition of the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" -- which is being kept under lock and key until its official June 21 release date -- has been arrested along with three others in connection with an alleged plot to steal advanced copies of J.K. Rowling's fifth boy-wizard adventure.

Donald Parfitt, 44, was charged late Thursday and released on bail in connection with stealing the two copies of the book that were discovered in a field near the offices of the printer in the Suffolk town of Bungay, Suffolk County police tell the Associated Press.

Parfitt, an employee of Clays Ltd. (which is printing hundreds of thousands of copies of the eagerly anticipated novel), is scheduled to appear before a judge later this month.

Arrested with him were an 18-year-old man and two 16-year-old boys. All were reportedly charged with the handling of stolen goods.

The entire escapade began early in the week, when the Sun tabloid reported that a 40-year-old father of two discovered the unbound, uncut copies of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in a field and gave it to the newspaper, which then alerted authorities.

The Sun also reported receiving a phone call from "a shifty-sounding man" -- apparently not the father of two -- offering chapters of the book for $40,000.

The Sun tabloid reported that its representatives agreed to meet the caller in a supermarket parking lot near the printing plant. That's when police (who had been tipped off by the Sun) arrested two teenagers after they allegedly handed over the chapters.

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