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Many people believe that there is no money in physical books these days, but there are some thieves who would disagree. Two men were arrested on June 15 for stealing nearly 250 library books and trying to remove all of the library’s labels. They’re not the first, and they likely will not be the last. Public libraries are free to area residents and allow cardholders to borrow materials, so some dishonest patrons have decided to make money by removing all signs of library ownership and selling the book. Anyone who has ever tried to sell a novel would see this as futile (my college bookstore offered me a measly 75 cents to buy back my pristine copy of Middlemarch), but there is money to be had in reference books.
The latest thieves out of Middletown, Ohio, worked as a pair. One man checked out 148 items and his partner took out 98. All of the items were found in their home, damaged from the attempts to remove library labels. Since all of the materials were accounted for, it can only be assumed that they meant to sell them. Together, the pair owes over $5,000 in fines and fees. Wondering how they were able to check so many items out? Patrons are permitted to borrow 150 items at a time.
A woman in Minnesota created multiple aliases so that she could borrow valuable reference books from area libraries and sell them to a used bookstore. She targeted nursing and medical books and study guides, knowing them to be worth a lot of money. Libraries in different counties alerted each other to the thefts, and the woman’s aliases were flagged in each area library’s system. She was caught in April while attempting to obtain a new library card under a fake identity. The St. Paul Public Library filed a police report alleging $1,400 in stolen materials, although the woman stole much more when you account for the materials taken from other branches.
A California woman was sentenced to three years of probation and 30 hours of community service, ordered to stay away from San Diego County libraries, and forbidden from having an eBay or Amazon account after stealing more than 2,000 library items. The woman took the items from branches in Carlsbad, Oceanside, and San Diego and listed them on Amazon. She had nearly $5,400 worth of books on cooking, crafts, and animals in her home, some wrapped up waiting to be shipped to buyers. She pled guilty to felony burglary in February and was sentenced last April.
In February, a community college in Toledo, Ohio, got suspicious about a man who sold them used textbooks. It turns out that the man checked out over $8,000 worth of textbooks from two library branches over a two-week span using his own name and an alias. The man had been checking textbooks out of libraries and college campuses all over the area to sell them and is currently being investigated. He is currently out on bond for stealing cars in Detroit, registering them in Ohio, and selling them on Craigslist.