Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2012 Issue

Crime, Punishment and eBay: Books are still the Target of Thefts

Sturgislibr

The Sturgis Library, from their website.

A Cape Cod man has been indicted on multiple counts of stealing books from libraries, books that eventually made their way to eBay. This case is just another reminder of the problem with eBay, a wonderful online auction site that often provides consumers with great values, but once in awhile becomes a vehicle for stolen merchandise. Arthur Souza, a 52-year-old regular visitor at several Cape Cod libraries, has been charged with four counts of larceny of library material worth more than $250 and two counts of the same for material worth less than $250. This was not the first time the apparently slow-learning Mr. Souza has been charged with such crimes. He was out on $200 bail from April at the Orleans District Court. This time he gets to try his luck at the Barnstable Superior Court.

According to the Cape Cod Times, Souza is alleged to have stolen books from libraries in Hyannis, Harwich, Brewster, Barnstable Village, and South Yarmouth. He then sold the books to an antiques dealer in Chatham who offered the books for sale on eBay. His troubles arose when a customer in South Carolina noticed library markings from the Sturgis Library in Barnstable Village and called the library. Notice was sent around to other libraries on the Cape, and when Mr. Souza began examining rare books at the Brooks Free Library in Harwich, the police were called in. Perhaps Mr. Souza misinterpreted the meaning of “Free” in the Brooks Library's name.

One would think that the antiques dealer would have wondered about the source of books with library markings before posting the same for sale on eBay. There should have been some red flags there, but considering the seller posted images with the library markings blatantly obvious, it was evidently a case of naivete. Buyers, wholesale and retail, may just assume if someone offers a library book for sale, it is an ex-libris, rather than a libris. Then again, we should know by now what assume makes of “u” and me.

A more disturbing book theft case came out of Kenya recently, where books are still more treasured for the knowledge within than as collectible items. There has been a rash of thefts of schoolbooks in one province, and the level of stealing and associated violence has become alarming. Thieves have broken into book supplies at several schools and made off with the needed textbooks. Apparently, they are able to sell then on the streets of Kenya or to schools in neighboring South Sudan. Security guards have been tied up during the thefts, and in one case, two guards were reportedly killed by what appears to be well-organized criminals. In some instances, books have disappeared without such break-ins, leading parents to believe that some teachers may be in on the crime. This case is a sobering reminder to those of us who live in nations where printed books are disappearing from schools because electronic editions are taking their place, not because of thefts. There are countries where economic conditions are such that traditional printed textbooks are still very valuable and desperately needed. Stealing from children who need every break possible to lift them out of poverty takes a particularly low form of thief.


Posted On: 2012-10-20 00:00
User Name: payson

I have happy memories from about fifteen years ago, when Sturgis Library of Barnstable had a huge book sale. They sold off most of their oldest bo


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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