CSI: Library, Law & Order Edition

As I was eating breakfast, one of the member of the Dixie Crew(1) got into a fight on the table with a member of the Grove Gang.(2) I broke up the fight, chastising both sides, and sent them on their way. This pissed of the member of the Dixie Crew so much that he went into the next room and proceeded to smack around any cat unfortunate enough to cross his path, irrespective of gang affiliation. There was more biting, scratching and flying fur than an average week on Jerry Springer.

Consequently, my usual calm breakfast was not a thing today. By the time I got to work I was already cranky and then printer and then morons and then printer again and then…well, it was shaping up to be another contender for a Middle Finger Award.

But then I got an email from my boss with a link to the local newspaper’s website.

Since roughly 2007, I suspected that someone was stealing books from the library. I knew books were going missing, but I didn’t know who might be taking them. Over the years I documented anything suspicious I found. I put in a ton of work figuring out everything from where the books were being sold(3) to patterns of thievery.(4)

Finally, a break in the case came early last year.

A guy had been discovered to have multiple library accounts at one of the neighboring colleges. He had several books checked out on both accounts. A librarian there notified campus security. They got a search warrant for his apartment and found no books at all.

He had an account at our library with about fifty books checked out. I called the officer on the case at the other college(5) and reported what I knew. I talked to detectives on our campus. I talked to detectives at other campuses. I helped them figure out items from all over the area that he may have taken, which I was able to do since I’d spent so much time previously noting which types of books he was taking.

It turns out he’d been stealing books from at least five different area libraries and selling them on Amazon. I helped the detective here set up something of a sting operation in which they bought books from one or two Amazon sellers I suspected might be selling out stuff. I was wrong about both sellers, but still, not many civilians get to talk about setting up a sting operation.

In addition to all of that, but he registered for classes and then absconded with the financial aid money at schools here and in Michigan. This got the FBI involved, because it’s one thing to commit any kind of serial crime, and it’s a whole different animal to do it across state line. They got him, eventually, which, once they had the right information, wasn’t hard.

He was found guilty in our county earlier this year on several charges.(6) The article this morning said he’s been sentenced to three years of supervised release and eight months in a halfway house. That may not sound like much, but I’ve spent six years working this case. That he got even half that time makes my efforts totally worthwhile in my opinion.

And he has yet to be sentenced in other counties. All he did here was check out books and sell them. The fraud charges related to the financial aid are much, much heavier. So who knows yet how long this guy will have to serve time. I don’t really care that much. I’m just glad that all of my work aided both of the separate but equally important sides of our criminal justice system.

And besides, this guy stole from the library? Book ‘im!

  1. The in-laws’ cats.
  2. Our cats.
  3. Local bookstores, online bookstores, Amazon, eBay…
  4. Most of the books taken were science textbooks, though some were education textbooks as well.
  5. Who, it turned out, I knew; I worked for his ma years ago.
  6. Only two of the colleges are in our county. To my knowledge, he’s has charges brought against him in four other counties in Ohio and one in Michigan.

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