109 libraries across half the states in America were the victim of a thief, who stole several hundred books and map pages.
The thief, a Montana resident named James L Brubaker, has now been sentenced to 30 months in jail, to be followed by three years of supervision on release.
The thefts were not stealthy cat burglaries, nor violent robberies at gunpoint. At 74, Brubaker is probably too old for either. He was simply aware of a method of deactivating the magnetic security tabs in the books.
Once that was done, he could stroll out without anyone asking any questions. The alarms stayed quiet.
Brubaker sold many of the books over eBay, and pocketed over $500,000 from the sales in 2007. After a while, the authorities tracked a number of questionable sales back to Great Falls, Montana, where a certain 'montanasilver' was based.
Some of the texts taken included 21 books published from 1749-1799, including two volumes of a relatively early version of Milton's Paradise Lost, and also Paradise Regained. He also stole an 1842 map of Illinois and George Custer's 1874 work My life on the Plains.
Libraries are now slowly having the books returned to them. One of these, Idaho State University's library, has recently received 20 books back but they are missing far more, as 200 are estimated to have been taken by Brubaker.
The books will now be stored in a more secure part of the library.
"We of course think they're valuable and others do too.", commented Sandra Shopshire of the University Library.
Judging by Brubaker's profit-making, he clearly thought so aswell.
Paul Fraser Collectibles currently has its own 19th century book which can be yours to own: the bible which Robert Burns leafed through shortly before his death in 1796.
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