A pair of clueless thieves didn't realise that their loot from an early morning raid included an invaluable centuries-old religious artefact.

The burglars apparently had little idea of what to make of the handwritten Qur'an pages they stole from the house of a collector of old manuscripts, in Nuneaton, United Kingdom.

They threw them in the bin at the first opportunity, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

Police later found the pages stuffed in a rubbish bin, just a street away from the burgled house.

Detective Constable Paul Riley, who is investigating the break-in, told the Telegraph that police would forensically examine the pages.

"The owner is a collector of old manuscripts and he was using them to write a book. Incredibly the thieves have thrown them away totally the wrong thing and kept the phone," he said.

"They were just dumped in a bin just a road away from the place they targeted. They didn't have a clue what they had got in their hands, something the owner is delighted about."

The 23 year-old collector, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was thrilled to get his stolen documents back.

"These manuscripts are priceless and are normally kept in a very secure place," he said.

"But they had been left in a briefcase because I was using them as research for a book and needed to show them to an expert calligrapher.

"The writings, in various inks, are on single sheets of paper and many of them are 300 years old, with some were written 1,000 years ago - they are extremely rare.

"As a Muslim, I would not be able to put a value on these manuscripts. They are that important."

Muslims believe the original text of the Qur'an to be the literal word of God, and a book of guidance for mankind.

A complete copy of the book written in 1203, believed to be the oldest known, sold for more than £1.4m at Christie's in London in 2007.

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