Here’s a subject worthy of an old-fashioned whodunit — someone is stealing best-sellers from suburban libraries and selling them on the Internet. It goes without saying that the thief or thieves have not offered to share the ill-gotten gain from the sale of hundreds of books with the institutions from which they were stolen.
Libraries across Allegheny County and at the Cranberry Area Public Library in Butler County are reporting that thousands of dollars worth of books are walking out the doors. The Cooper-Siegel library in Fox Chapel, the Northland library in McCandless and the Mt. Lebanon library have been particularly hard hit. Cranberry’s librarian found out a book was missing when a person who purchased it online found the library’s stamp inside it.
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has identified and banned one suspected book thief from all of its branches. Inexplicably, the suspected thief has not been arrested or charged. If the Carnegie is confident enough in its information to ban the suspected thief, there’s a good chance the police would consider him a person of interest in the other thefts, as well.
Stealing from libraries is not a victimless crime. Ultimately, taxpayers and the reading public pay the price for this shameless crime of opportunity. If the books are being sold online, the thief or thieves shouldn’t be that difficult to catch.
Once caught, there’s only one appropriate punishment for such a thief. Yes, throw the book at him, and make no apologies for it.