RBMS Security Committee: Theft Reports 2012
This is a list of incidents reported in the public media and on open listservs, such as Exlibris. The "Incidents of Theft" list was begun in 1987 and is updated by a member of the RBMS Security Committee. Although known to be incomplete, the list does provide an indication of the extent and variety of reported and alleged thefts. For reports in the Exlibris electronic discussion list since April 1991, consult the list archives.
The following list contains notices of thefts that occurred or were reported in 2012. For additional coverage or for information on how to report notices for possible inclusion on the list, please consult the cumulative index.
The Whangaroa County Museum and Archives Society in Kaeo, New Zealand, has filed a complaint with Kerikeri police about the disappearance over the past decade of more than 500 historic photos from their collections.
Source: Article, Peter de Graaf, “Hundreds of historic photos go missing,” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10847041, November 13, 2012.
Jason Savedoff, 25, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for helping his mentor, Barry Landau, 64, research and steal valuable historical documents from libraries and historical archives (see “Incidents of Theft” for October 2011). His sentence is shorter than what is recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. He will also repay $16,000 earned from the sale of stolen historical documents. Savedoff cooperated with investigators after his arrest, revealing the methods he and Landau used, helping to recover stolen items, and speaking with institutions about how to improve their monitoring.
Source: Article, Jessica Gresko, “Jason Savedoff, Rare Document Thief, Sentenced to Year in Prison in Maryland,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/11/jason-savedoff-rare-docum_n_2113628.html, November 9, 2012.
Two men have been arrested for stealing WWII documents concerning the Nazi occupation of Denmark from the Danish state archives. The police say that one of the offenders framed some of the material and used it to decorate his apartment, but that other material may have been resold. According to the archives director, the thefts may have been going on for as long as a decade.
Source: Article, “’Irreplaceable’ Nazi-era documents stolen from Danish archives,” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/9634459/Irreplaceable-Nazi-era-documents-stolen-from-Danish-archives.html, October 25, 2012.
Larry McCoy, 39, and Danielle Campbell, 28, of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, have been charged with library theft (a felony) for books worth $7,100. Court documents state that 71 books listed for sale on eBay were checked out of the UMSL library by McCoy and Campbell. According to campus investigators, eBay’s shipping documentation lists Campbell’s name and address as that of the seller. Both have admitted to selling all but 15 of the books on eBay.
Source: Article, Christine Byers, “University of Missouri-St. Louis students arrested after selling library books on eBay,” http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/university-of-missouri-st-louis-students-arrested-after-selling-library/article_4fa5d9b7-329b-5451-b43d-126ba1571be0.html, October 19, 2012.
Update: It is suspected that Marino Massimo De Caro placed a fake copy of Galileo’s 1606 Compasso in the Seminary Library at Padua.
Source: Article, “Libro di Galileo in Seminario giallo da esperti,” http://mattinopadova.gelocal.it/regione/2012/10/10/news/libro-di-galileo-in-seminario-giallo-da-esperti-1.5839697, October 10, 2012.
Update: Il Mattino reports that De Caro has confessed to working with Stephane Delsalle to ransack other Italian libraries, including the library of Don Provolo of Verona from 1999-2000, the biblioteca capitolare di Padova between 2003 and 2005, the seminario di Verona in 2009 or 2010 and the Abbey of Montecassino on several occasions. (See "Incidents of Theft" for June 2012 and subsequent.)
Source: Article, Inchiesta Girolamini: “Centinaia di libri rubati dal direttore in altre biblioteche Sostituì un volume con un facsimile,” http://www.ilmattino.it/napoli/citta/inchiesta_girolamini_laquocentinaia_di_libri_rubati_dal_direttore_in_altre_biblioteche_sostitui_un_volume_con_un_fac_simileraquo/notizie/223716.shtml, October 5, 2012.
The investigation into the De Caro case (see "Incidents of Theft" for June 2012 and subsequent) has found that Massimo De Caro, during a visit to the National Library of Naples in his role as adviser to the Minister of Cultural Heritage, allegedly stole a copy of the Sidereus nuncius of Galileo, printed in 1610, and substituted a forgery in its place.
Source: Article, “Biblioteca dei Girolamini, tra i libri rubati anche un trattato di Galileo,” http://www.tg1.rai.it/dl/tg1/2010/articoli/ContentItem-7a13b33f-06a9-4d49-b082-8b9075032fb5.html?refresh_ce, October 5, 2012.
On October 3, four more individuals were arrested for alleged involvement in the De Caro scandal (see "Incidents of Theft" for June 2012 and subsequent), and the investigation has announced progress in identifying their specific roles in the operation. According to the investigation, Father Sandro Marsano, 38, former curator of the Girolamini Library, would allow people identified by De Caro to select and take away the volumes; he is under house arrest. In custody are three others: Stephane Delsalle, 38, a French citizen and an expert in antiquarian books, who would allegedly work with De Caro to select the most important titles to put on the market in Italy and abroad. Maurizio Bifolco, 65, of Rome, would allegedly sell the volumes to buyers and collect and distribute the proceeds among the suspects. Finally, Luca Cableri, 39, of Udine, Studio Bibliografico Wunderkammer, is alleged to have identified the auction house Zisska and Schauer as a seller through which to funnel hundreds of books purloined from the Girolamini.
Source: Article, “Furto alla biblioteca dei Girolamini: quattro arresti, c'è anche un sacerdote,” http://corrieredelmezzogiorno.corriere.it/napoli/notizie/cronaca/2012/3-ottobre-2012/furto-all-biblioteca-girolamini-4-arresti-c-anche-sacerdote-2112082635692.shtml, October 3, 2012.
Two books were stolen from the residence of John Bryant in Escazu, San Jose, Costa Rica around the end of June. The books are John Milton´s Paradise Lost, 5th edition, printed by Richard Bentley in 1691, and John Gerarde´s Herball, printed by Norton and Whittacker in 1633. The family name “Geils” appears in pencil inside the front cover of both books. There is also a sticker in one if not both with the family coat of arms and the name Geilston. The frontispiece of the herbal had been lost and replaced by a facsimile. Please contact John Bryant at email@example.com with any information. UPDATE: These books were recovered in December 2012.
Update: Guillaume Ferdinand Pringault, one of two men involved in the theft of books from the Christchurch City Council library building (see “Incidents of Theft” for June 2012), did not succeed in having his case considered under the diversion scheme for first offenders; he has been fined $500 and ordered to pay $3,571 in reparations.
Source: Article, David Clarkson, “Backpacker fined for theft of library items,” http://courtnews.co.nz/story.php?id=4521, August 30, 2012.
A 61-year old unemployed Japanese man initially arrested for the theft of 12 library books was discovered by police to have 896 books allegedly stolen from various libraries stashed in his home; they are worth about 2 million yen ($25,000). Mitsuka Suizu reportedly said, “I wanted to keep the books I read.”
Source: Article, Parvez Jabri, “Japanese man steals 900 library books,” http://www.brecorder.com/world/southeast-asia/77485-japanese-man-steals-900-library-books.html, September 6, 2012.
A screenplay has been discovered missing from a display case at the San Francisco Public Library; staff deduce from photographic evidence that it was removed between July 23rd and 27th. The display area was heavily trafficked but not monitored by staff, and the case itself was not alarmed. The screenplay, a 1938 work by Harry Hay entitled “Largo: A Story Out of the Life of George Friederich Handel,” has an estimated value of $350. Contact Susan Goldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-557-4563 if you have any information.
Source: Article, “Harry Hay screenplay missing, library suspects theft,” http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2012/08/20/harry-hay-screenplay-missing-library-suspects-theft/, August 28, 2012
Arthur Souza of Hyannis, Massachusetts was indicted on charges relating to book theft. He allegedly stole books from several libraries across Cape Cod and sold them to a Chatham antiques dealer, who then sold them on eBay where some fetched hundreds of dollars. Court documents list the following libraries as victims of alleged theft: the Brooks Free Library in Harwich, the Brewster Ladies' Library, the Hyannis Public Library, the Sturgis Library in West Barnstable, the Chatham Public Library, and the South Yarmouth Library. When a potential buyer phoned Lucy Loomis of Sturgis Library about the library’s ownership markings in one of the books for sale, Loomis notified other Cape libraries and the police, and an investigation was begun. Souza’s arrest took place after he was spotted by a librarian at the Brooks Free Library looking at valuable older books.
Source: Article, Steve Doane, “Hyannis man indicted on book theft charges,” http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120827/NEWS11/120829752/-1/NEWS, August 27, 2012
The following eight rare cookbooks were stolen sometime between Monday, Aug 20th and Tuesday, Aug 21st, 2012, from the Castro neighborhood (Douglass St.) of San Francisco, CA. Most of the volumes are in clamshell cloth boxes (earth tones). If you have any information on these items please contact Celia Sack at (415) 282-4712.
Almanach des Gourmands (1805)
The Honours of the Table (1791)
The American Frugal Housewife (1836)
The Cook’s and Housewife’s Manual (1826)
The Cook’s Oracle (1827)
A Complete System of Cookery (1816)
The London Art of Cookery (1804)
The New York Times has published a summary of the De Caro scandal (see "Incidents of Theft" for June 2012) in which Nick Wilding of Georgia State University and Owen Gingerich of Harvard University are interviewed about the Galileo forgeries.
Source: Article, Elisabetta Povoledo, "At Root of Italy Library's Plunder, A Tale of Entrenched Practices," http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/world/europe/naples-librarys-plunder-highlights-entrenched-dealings.html, August 12, 2012.
A baseball card on the verge of being sold at auction has been identified by the FBI as stolen property belonging to the New York Public Library’s Spalding Collection. An abraded area on the back of the card with traces of blue ink clearly showed NYPL's ownership stamp when placed in an ultraviolet light machine. Legendary Auctions owner Doug Allen, who has pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of mail and wire fraud in a case involving three former executives of Mastro Auctions (a sports memorabilia auction house, now closed), is returning the card to its consigner, who will return it to the library. The consigner bought it at an arts and antiques auction 8-10 years ago. It is not clear when the card was taken from the library or by whom. Allen had been expecting it to sell for as much as $50,000.
Source: Article, Michael O’Keeffe, “FBI seeks Doug Allen’s help, a week after indicting him, to locate missing 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball card,” http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/i-team/fbi-seeks-doug-allen-a-week-indicting-locate-missing-1869-cincinnati-red-stockings-baseball-card-article-1.1128528, August 4, 2012.
The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library has announced the theft of three volumes. On Thursday, June 7, 2012, staff at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) discovered that a 16th century printed book was missing from the work carrel of one of its catalogers. HMML staff conducted a thorough search of both HMML and Alcuin Library to ensure that the item had not been misplaced. The staff immediately reviewed a list of rare materials that had been used that week in presentations during a workshop being held at the library. It was discovered that two manuscript items from the Arca Artium collection were also missing, one of which had been used on Wednesday afternoon (June 6). It is believed that all three volumes were stolen. The manuscripts had already been photographed digitally and can be viewed in Vivarium, the online image service from the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (www.hmml.org/vivarium). Officers from Life Safety Services at Saint John's University and from the Stearns County Sheriff's Office began an investigative process that involved interviewing staff and library visitors. New security precautions have since been put into place. The missing books are:
Item 1: Two printed works in Latin, together in one volume. These are bound in blind-stamped pigskin over wooden boards, with raised bands and two clasps. The volume measures approximately 16-17 cm X 10 cm X 4-5 cm. The two titles are:
- Desiderius Erasmus. D. Erasmi Roterodami, De copia verborum ac rerum commentarij duo … (Haganeae: Ex officina Seceriana, 1532).
- Adriano Castellesi. Hadrianus TT. S. Chrysogoni, S.R.E. Presby. Card. Batouien. De sermone Latino, & modis Latine loquendi … (Basileae: in aedibus Thomae Vollffij, 1533).
Item 2: Manuscript: "Señorio de Galisteo y sus 9 Aldeas. Sus pertenencias." (the caption at the top of the cover). This is written on 30 unnumbered parchment leaves (i.e. 60 pages), of which the final two are blank (that is, [28 + 2] ff.). The size is 29.2 x 22.2 cm. (ca. 11 ½" by 9"), and about 1 cm (½ ") thick. It is bound in a light brown, soft parchment cover. Online pictures at: http://cdm.csbsju.edu/u?/SJRareBooks,19967.
Item 3: Manuscript: Index codicum, authorum, et tractatuum in codicibus contentorum bibliothecae Alcobacensis (Alcobaça, ca. 1775?). This 18th century Latin manuscript contains brief descriptions for the manuscripts owned by the abbey of Alcobaça in Portugal. It is written on 98 paper leaves (i.e., 196 pages), of which the final six (ff. 93-98) are blank]. It's size is 33.2 cm. x 21.5 cm. x 2.5 cm (or 13.5" x ca. 8.5" x 1"). Online pictures at: http://cdm.csbsju.edu/cdm/ref/collection/SJRareBooks/id/20139.
The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library would appreciate any help in recovering these items. Detailed descriptions of them are available here. If you have information or questions concerning this incident or these items, please contact:
Matthew Z. Heintzelman (email@example.com)
Phone: 320-363-2795 (front office: 320-363-3514)
Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
P.O. Box 7300
Saint John's University,
Collegeville, MN 56321-7300
A freelance handyman and electrician who worked in the Santiago de Compostela cathedral for 25 years has been arrested, along with his wife, son, and another woman, over the theft of the Codex Calixtinus (see “Incidents of Theft” for July 2011). A police raid of the man’s property uncovered eight copies of the manuscript, several other books stolen from the cathedral including a book of hours, Church documents and correspondence, and keys to various outbuildings. The Codex Calixtinus itself was found in a garage near the town. According to The Guardian, the main suspect was fired “after faking a work contract to make it look like he had a permanent job."
Source: Article, “Four arrested in Spain over Codex Calixtinus theft,” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/04/four-arrested-spain-codex-calixtinus, July 4, 2012.
Barry Landau, convicted of the theft of thousands of historical documents (see “Incidents of Theft” for February 2012 and earlier) has been sentenced to seven years in prison followed by three years of probation. A special condition of his release is that he will not be able to visit an archive or museum without his probation officer’s approval.
Source: Article, Jessica Gresko, “ NY man gets 7 years prison for rare document theft,” http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-06-28/ny-man-gets-7-years-prison-for-rare-document-theft, June 28, 2012.
The Swedish National Library has recovered a stolen atlas—the first recovery of the many books stolen and sold by the late chief of the library’s manuscript division Anders Burius (see “Incidents of Theft” for July 2011). The atlas had been purchased by New York map dealer W. Graham Arader III in 2003; Sotheby’s had acquired it in turn from a London dealer. Once the identity of the atlas was determined, Sotheby’s refunded Mr. Arader’s money and gave the atlas to Sweden. Before his suicide, Mr. Burius told police that his practice was to grind off any identifying markings from the stolen books and then sell them for cash to the German auction house Ketterer Kunst. A 2008 Swedish government report states that Ketterer checked for library stamps and required each seller to sign an assurance attesting to legal ownership.
Source: Article, Patricia Cohen, “Swedes Find Stolen Atlas in New York,” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/27/books/swedish-royal-library-recovers-stolen-1597-atlas-in-new-york.html?_r=3, June 26, 2012.
Police recovered the incomplete Book of Mormon that was recently stolen from Helen Schlie’s Arizona bookstore (see “Incidents of Theft” for June 2012) when they searched the apartment of Jay Linford in Washington, D.C. Linford is being held on $40,000 bond pending extradition to Arizona.
Source: Article, “Police: Rare 1st edition of Book of Mormon stolen from Arizona store recovered in Washington,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/police-rare-1st-edition-of-book-of-mormon-stolen-from-arizona-store-recovered-in-washington/2012/06/12/gJQAHsMeYV_story.html, June 12, 2012.
Several copies of books by Galileo, including two examples of the Sidereus Nuncius (first edition Venice, 1610) have been found to be recent (c. 2005) forgeries. Nick Wilding (Georgia State University) and Paul Needham (Scheide Library, Princeton) undertook a thorough reexamination of the evidence after noticing a series of otherwise inexplicable coincides between the ‘New York’ Sidereus Nuncius, authenticated and analysed in Galileo’s O, ed. Horst Bredekamp (Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 2011) and a copy offered by Sotheby’s New York in 2005. Parallels were also apparent between these and two copies of Galileo’s Le Operazioni del Compasso Geometrico e Militare (first edition Padua, 1606) identified as forgeries in a private study at the Library of Congress undertaken by Frank Mowery in 2005. Three copies of Galileo’s Le Operazioni del Compasso Geometrico e Militare (first edition Padua, 1606) were identified as forgeries by Owen Gingerich in 2005. Other forged titles have also been detected. Details will soon be published. The New York Sidereus Nuncius purports to contain an autograph inscription by Galileo, five bistre sketches in place of the usual lunar etchings and the library stamp of Federico Cesi. Several other examples of this fake stamp have been detected in circulation on genuine books: all Cesi stamps on the market since 2005 should be diligently examined. Contact Nick Wilding at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details on the authentication of these stamps. The recent provenances of all these texts apparently converge on, but do not necessarily originate from, Marino Massimo De Caro, currently under arrest for massive thefts from the Girolamini Library in Naples (see below). Anyone with information should contact the relevant authorities. Librarians who believe they may have acquired forged material with a similar provenance should contact the RBMS Security Committee.
Source: Press release, Nick Wilding, "Galileo Forgeries Discovered," Exlibris electronic mailing list, https://iulist.indiana.edu/sympa/arc/exlibris-l/2012-06/msg00081.html, June 11, 2012.
Update: Two more arrests, of Federico Roncoletta and Marco Ceriano of Verona, were made in the Girolamini Library investigation (see “Incidents of Theft” for April and May 2012). All of those arrested are now charged with criminal conspiracy in addition to embezzlement. The estimated number of allegedly stolen books has reached 2,200.
Source: Article, “Girolamini, due nuovi arresti: altri accuse all’ex direttore,” http://corrieredelmezzogiorno.corriere.it/napoli/notizie/cronaca/2012/9-giugno-2012/girolamini-due-nuovi-arrestialtre-accuse-ex-direttore--201537420178.shtml, June 9, 2012.
Two French men who were charged with stealing books and maps from an earthquake damaged library in Nga Hau e Wha marae, New Zealand, have been offered police diversion—a way for first offenders on what this article terms "less serious charges" to make reparations while avoiding having a criminal conviction on their record. Ilane Elie Benzara and Guillaume Ferdinand Pringault, both 22, were working for a contractor who was employed to remove books from the damaged building. They took 5 rare books and 2 historical maps and left them in their vehicle with the windows down; the materials subsequently sustained severe water damage. Although they told the police their intention was to read the books at home and return them, they had also attempted to remove identifying markings from the books. $13,925 in reparations is being sought for the damage.
Source: Article, Anne Clarkson, “Diversion offered for historic book and map thefts,” http://courtnews.co.nz/story.php?id=4322, June 6, 2012.
An incomplete first edition of the Book of Mormon was discovered missing on Memorial Day from Helen Schlie’s suburban Phoenix bookstore Rare and Out of Print Books and Art. Schlie had been in the process of selling individual leaves from the book; she estimates that 40 pages were sold before the book disappeared.
Source: Article, Jim Walsh, “First-edition Book of Mormon stolen from Ariz. store,” http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-06-02/book-of-mormon-stolen/55337798/1, June 2, 2012.
Update: After a last-minute attempt, caught by a wiretap, to have an associate move a stash of "hot" books, Marino Massimo De Caro [see below] has confessed to the theft of thousands of books from the Girolamini Library and is cooperating with police in tracing them. Also, eleven books bearing the stamp of Library of the Seminary of Genoa have been found in the home of the Girolamini's curator, Sandro Marsano.
Source: Article, "Undici libri sospetti della Curia Genovese a casa di don Marsano," http://corrieredelmezzogiorno.corriere.it/lecce/notizie/cronaca/2012/28-maggio-2012/undici-libri-sospetti-curia-genovese-casa-don-marsano-201363498650.shtml, May 28, 2012.
Update: Marino Massimo De Caro, formerly of the Girolamini Library (see "Update" below), was arrested on the charge of embezzlement along with four others; a search warrant is out for a fifth. The curator of the rare book collection at the library is under investigation.
Source: Article, Irene de Arcangelis, "Girolamini, arestato il direttore," http://napoli.repubblica.it/cronaca/2012/05/24/news/girolamini_furto_libri_antichi_cinque_arresti_tra_cui_il_direttore-35810353/?ref=HREC1-7, May 24, 2012.
Three archival items from the United Negro College Fund Collection were stolen from a locked exhibit case in a tunnel connecting the undergraduate and main libraries at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Surveillance footage shows the theft, and police are soliciting the public to help them make an identification.
Source: Article, “Info sought on theft of items from UI Library,” http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2012-05-21/info-sought-theft-items-ui-library.html, May 21, 2012.
Update: 1000 books, 240 of which have ownership stamps from the Girolamini Library (see "Incidents of Theft" for April, 2012), were found in storage in Marino Massimo De Caro's home city of Verona. Police have established through seized documents that many books from the library have already been sold to buyers in the United States, England, and Japan; these records will enable the recovery process to begin.
Source: Article, "Ritrovati 240 libri sottratti alla biblioteca dei Girolamini," http://corrieredelmezzogiorno.corriere.it/napoli/notizie/cronaca/2012/18-maggio-2012/ritrovati-240-libri-sottratti-biblioteca-girolamini--201242456116.shtml, May 18, 2012.
Update: Carla Jablonski (see below) filed a settlement in Manhattan Supreme Court freeing memorabilia dealer Gary Zimet to sell the Ira Gershwin letters he said he acquired from an unidentified dealer about three weeks ago.
Source: Article, Barbara Ross, “Court clears way for sale of Ira Gershwin letters,” http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/court-clears-sale-ira-gershwin-letters-article-1.1076890?localLinksEnabled=false, May 11, 2012.
Children’s book author Carla Jablonski filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court against memorabilia dealer Gary Zimet for the return of 135 letters from Ira Gershwin to her late father Edward Jablonski, biographer of the Gershwins. Jablonski says Zimet possesses the letters illegally; she was not aware they were missing from her home until the Library of Congress contacted her on April 19 with the news that Zimet was offering them for sale for $325,000. Zimet claimed in an email to a librarian at the Library of Congress that he got the letters from another dealer who obtained them from Edward Jablonski. Ms. Jablonski and her brother gave their father’s Gershwin archive to the Library of Congress after his death in 2004, but, according to the filing, held these particular letters back because of their personal nature.
Source: Article, Liz Sadler and Dareh Gregorian, “Porgy and theft,” http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/porgy_and_theft_xYq1DOPcToBYNOXqDWFDxN?utm_medium=rss&utm_content=Manhattan, May 9, 2012.
Update: Admitted felon Maria Natar (see “Incidents of Theft” for February 2012) is serving 3 years formal probation for commercial burglary and has been ordered to pay more than $7,000 restitution to the libraries she stole from. Conditions of her probation include staying away from libraries, not maintaining any online accounts, and eschewing online buying and selling.
Source: Article, Eva Knott, “Burglar Wants Her Property Back,” http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2012/may/04/burglar-wants-her-property-back/, May 4, 2012.
Two Jerusalem men have been charged with stealing rare Judaic books from the Israel National Library. Yisrael Pinto and Yekutiel Barkman used false references to gain permission to examine two Hasidic classics valued in the tens of thousands of dollars: “Meor Einavim” by Rabbi Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl (1798) and “Kedushas Levi” by Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (also 1798). The alleged thefts took place on two separate occasions in May 2009. According to the indictment submitted by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, the first book was swapped for a different book with a similar catalog number, and the second book’s cover was placed on a substitute. It is unclear when librarians noticed the substitutions. Pinto and Barkman were arrested after being identified on security footage. The originals have not been recovered and are presumed sold. The National Library has recently undergone renovations to improve security.
Source: Article, Nir Hasson, “Jerusalem men charged with stealing rare Judaic books,” http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/jerusalem-men-charged-with-stealing-rare-judaic-books-1.427877, May 3, 2012.
Leslie Charles Waffen, former chief of the National Archives’ audiovisual holdings who was convicted of the theft of thousands of the repository’s rare recordings, was sentenced to 18 months in prison today by a Maryland judge. An investigation was launched when radio historian J. David Goldin spotted on eBay a recording of a Babe Ruth interview from 1937 that he himself had donated to NARA in the 1970s, along with many other original 30s- and 40s-era recordings. He requested the return of any unsold portions of his donation in a letter to NARA, who protested that no part had been deaccessioned. This exchange led to an investigation by the Office of Inspector General. Goldin did his own investigating as well, tracking the eBay seller to an address identified as Leslie Waffen’s. Waffen pleaded guilty in October to the theft of 955 items; police discovered another 2,117 in his home, and prosecutors alleged he sold more than 1,000 on eBay. Shortly after making his guilty plea, Waffen wrote an apology letter to his friends and colleagues expressing shame and embarrassment, stating he had “lost archival perspective and made wrong choices,” but denying that the recordings were anything more than duplicates.
Sources: Article, Del Quentin Wilber and Lisa Rein, “In National Archives thefts, a radio detective gets his man,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/in-national-archives-thefts-a-radio-detective-gets-his-man/2012/05/02/gIQAN1chxT_story.html, May 2, 2012; article, Jessica Gresko, “J. David Goldin Finds Babe Ruth Recording On eBay, Helps Stop National Archives Thefts,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/national-archives-thefts_n_1473293.html, May 3, 2012.
The Washington National Records Center of the National Archives and Records Administration was found by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to have lost over 1,000 boxes of classified information, 81 of which were marked as Top Secret or Restricted Data. These losses are not believed to have resulted from theft or espionage, but rather from record-keeping discrepancies and the complications of collection management on a large scale with limited resources in an aging, leaking building. Most of the material is not thought to be missing from the facility itself. The OIG report, which was recently released to the press on a Freedom of Information Act request, makes for interesting reading to anyone interested in security, as it lists all known security violations during the period of investigation.
Sources: Report of Investigation of the Washington National Records Center by the Office of Inspector General, http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/nara-wnrc.pdf, March 22, 2011; article, Jim McElhatton, “Secret files missing at National Archives,” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/1/secret-files-missing-at-national-archives/, May 1, 2012.
Update: The Girolamini Library (see below) has been closed by the Naples Public Prosecutor. Marino Massimo De Caro has been suspended and is being investigated for embezzlement.
Source: Article, Camilla Cavour, “Napoli, sequestrata biblioteca Girolamini,” http://www.corriereweb.net/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=23344:napoli-sequestrata-biblioteca-girolamini-de-caro-si-autosospende&Itemid=217, April 20, 2012.
The controversial new director of the Girolamini Library in Naples has announced that 1500 books are missing from the collection. Marino Massimo De Caro’s credentials and suitability for the post were already under already attack by Italian intellectuals when this announcement was made.
Source: Article, Gian Antonio Stella, translated by Giles Watson, “Girolamini Library’s Disappearing Books,” http://www.corriere.it/english/12_aprile_17/girolamini_506eea66-8884-11e1-989c-fd70877d52ac.shtml, April 17, 2012.
A 2 1/2 -to-five-year prison sentence was pronounced on Andrew Hanson of Manhattan for felony burglary on April 11. Hanson stole dozens of books, including valuable graphic novels, from branches of the New York Public Library in 2011, reselling them after removing their labels. Owner of East Village Books Donald Davis suspected Hanson of dealing in stolen goods and told employees to phone him if Hanson ever showed up with merchandise to sell. The phone call, coded “Where’s my delivery?” came last September, prompting former wrestler Davis to surprise, tackle, and pin Hanson in the store until police arrived. Hanson worked in the publishing industry before developing a drug problem; he has a record of drug, weapons, and burglary arrests dating from 2003.
Sources: Articles, Laura Italiano, “’Book worm’ sentenced to prison for swiping, selling library books,” http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/book_worm_sentenced_to_prison_for_tli6oEIdjlGqzODa0YIRlJ, April 13, 2012 and “Library worm is ‘booked,’” http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/library_worm_is_booked_neXcjQc04MPtp9fquvoj0M, October 20, 2011.
A University of Oregon custodian who had access to buildings and offices at night allegedly stole materials from the Math and Science Library over a period of three years. When Eugene police searched the house of Thomas Morgan, Jr., they found a quantity of games and game systems roughly half the size of the library’s entire game collection. It is the largest property crime ever committed at the university.
Source: Article, Kelsey Card, “Officers Investigate UO Custodian Theft for Three Years,” http://kezi.com/news/local/243839, April 10, 2012.
Update: 55-year-old Raymond Scott, sentenced to an 8-year prison term in 2010 for handling a stolen Shakespeare First Folio, was found dead in his prison cell in Acklington, Northumberland on March 14; his death is being treated as a suspected suicide.
Sources: Obituary, “Raymond Scott,” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9146720/Raymond-Scott.html, March 15, 2012. Article, Paul Sims, “Eccentric book dealer jailed for trying to sell stolen copy of first collection of Shakespeare's plays dies in prison,” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2115221/Raymond-Scott-jailed-handling-stolen-copy-collection-Shakespeares-plays-dies-prison.html?ito=feeds-newsxml, March 14, 2012.
Glenn Smith and Denise Goodman of Oklahoma City have been charged with stealing and selling more than $5,000 worth of library books. Using the library cards of 10 children, they allegedly checked out books from local public libraries and attempted to sell them to Half Price Books. Store employees eventually became suspicious of the quantities of library books being “discarded” and contacted the library system.
Source: Article, Jesse Wells, “Pair Arrested for Stealing, Selling Thousands in Library Books,” http://www.kfor.com/news/local/kfor-pair-arrested-for-stealing-selling-thousands-in-library-books-20120307,0,2499809.story, March 7, 2012.
The University of Minnesota Police have arrested their own former employee Kyle Bongers for the theft of books from the Diehl Hall Biomedical Library, a building he patrolled in his job as security monitor. According to court documents, Bongers is suspected of stealing hundreds of textbooks from library shelves and reselling them through multiple internet book retailers. The losses were discovered when staff at TextbooksRU.com noticed defaced U of M ownership markings on some of Bongers’s books and called the library. Police have since found that Bongers’s PayPal statements reveal income of nearly $70,000 since April 2010. The investigation is ongoing.
Source: Article, Mark Saxenmeyer, “U of M Police Library Monitor Accused of Stealing, Selling Books,” http://kstp.com/news/stories/S2520178.shtml?cat=1, March 1, 2012.
More than 5,000 rare scientific books, all with library ownership markings, have been discovered in the home of a German Culture Ministry official. The 45-year-old man was caught on February 21 attempting to steal 53 books from the Bad Arolsen Castle library, prompting the search of his home by police. Libraries across Germany have been notified of the locations of their missing books. The man is yet to face trial.
Source: Article, "Major Book Theft Discovered in Germany," http://www.panorama.am/en/society/2012/02/24/germany-book/, February 24, 2012.
Maria Natar of Vista, California, pleaded guilty to a felony burglary charge for taking 2,000 books and DVDs worth $5,440 from libraries in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido, and San Diego. Natar set off alarms trying to leave a library with a cart containing materials that had not been checked out. A librarian identified her to police, who searched her home and found piles of stolen materials, including cookery, craft, and gardening books. These have been returned and are now back in circulation. Her probation is likely to include monetary restitution to the libraries and volunteer work, but not jail time.
Source: Article, Hailey Persinger, "Woman Admits Theft of Library Materials," http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/feb/23/tp-woman-admits-theft-of-library-materials/, February 23, 2012.
Home-electronics installer Timothy Smith, 41, began a prison term of one to three years for the theft of rare books worth in excess of $1 million. His guilty plea and return of the books resulted in a light sentence for a crime that could have landed him up to 25 years in prison. The books, which included first editions of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, were stolen from the Fifth Avenue mansion of Susan Burden, widow of the late Carter Burden, a multimillionaire descendant of the robber baron Commodore Vanderbilt and an avid collector of 20th-century American literature. A portion of Burden’s collection was donated by his family to the Morgan Library and Museum in 1998, two years after his death.
Source: Article, Laura Italiano, “Electonics [sic] Installer Prison Bound for $1 Million Rare Books Theft from Vanderbilt Heir,” http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/electonics_installer_prison_bound_aRBI2IMT9ZIhLr4c2xrp7K, February 17, 2012. Further background: Article, Michael Stillman, “Electronic Installer Sentenced in $1 Million Book Theft,” http://americanaexchange.com/ae/AEMonthly/AEMonthlySingleArticle.aspx?ArticleID=1240&Month=3&Year=2012&Page=1, March 2012.
The Toledo Lucas County Public Library reported $8,000 worth of thefts by a man who used false identities to check out textbooks and then sell them. Police have assigned a detective to the case; they say that the suspect has been stealing textbooks from other libraries and campuses in the area. His name has not been released pending charges.
Source: Article, Lisa Rantala and Matt Wright, "Textbook Thief Steals $8,000 in Library Books," http://www.wtol.com/story/16932496/textbook-thief-steals-8000-in-library-books, February 14, 2012.
The disarming of security gates in San Diego’s city libraries in order to avoid “frequent false alarms that irritated patrons and staff” has raised questions about the trade-offs between creating a pleasant environment for patrons and securing a collection. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune Watchdog, an estimated $507,000 worth of library materials, one-quarter of which were purchased in the last two years, may have been lost in the first 10 months of 2011. The article discusses loss rates and inventory practices in San Diego city and county libraries, surveys 15 public library systems in California on their use of security gates, and interviews library directors about security concerns.
Source: Article, Matt Clark, “Libraries Let Down Guard; Theft Up,” http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/feb/12/tp-libraries-let-down-guard-theft-up/?page=1#article, February 12, 2012.
Update: Presidential historian Barry Landau pleaded guilty on February 7 to charges of theft, as expected (see below). Sentencing is scheduled for May 7.
Source: Article, Peter Hermann, Steve Kilar and Tricia Bishop, "Disgraced Collector Pleads Guilty to Stealing Historical Documents," http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-02-07/news/bs-md-landau-guilty-20120207_1_barry-h-landau-collector-of-presidential-memorabilia-theft-of-major-artwork, February 7, 2012
Update: Presidential historian Barry Landau, accused of stealing and conspiring to steal documents from the Maryland Historical Society and other institutions (see "Incidents of Theft" for October 2011) has indicated an intent to change his plea from not guilty to guilty by scheduling a rearraignment hearing for February 7. His trial is scheduled to begin February 13. Landau's assistant, Jason Savedoff, pleaded guilty to the same charges in October 2011.
Source: Article, Sarah Brumfield, "Presidential Historian Expected to Plead Guilty," http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/presidential-historian-expected-plead-guilty-15493347#.TyrKSXpdCnB, February 2, 2012.
A painting valued at $1,000 was stolen from the Mamaroneck, NY public library between January 20 and 23. There were no signs of forced entry. Police are investigating the case and the library’s security footage is being reviewed.
Source: Article, Colin Gustafson, “Mamaroneck Artist’s Painting Disappears from Village Library,” http://soundshore.lohudblogs.com/2012/01/23/mamaroneck-artists-painting-disappears-from-village-library/, January 23, 2012.