Book Thieves Strike the Twin Cities

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Little Free Library-related crime is way up in Minnesota.

First reported by TwinCities.com, Little Free Libraries across St. Paul are being raided en masse by an unnamed burglar (or burglars, or possibly an international cartel of book thieves). Bethany Gladhill has had it the worst. Over the last two months, her fully stocked Little Free Library has been completely gutted over a dozen different times. None of the books have been returned, depleting her supply so much, she’s had to close down. Thankfully, the organization has some measures for this type of situation, including free book replacement and a stamping kit to denote the charitable origin of the texts, so that bookstores won’t accidentally purchase stolen copies.

For those unfamiliar, Little Free Library is a three year old non-profit that encourages communities to share literature through a network of mailbox like book-huts that families construct in front of their homes and register with the organization. The structures, which are left unlocked at all times, allow local residents of all ages to take and return books at their leisure. Or even contribute to the collection if they’d like.

As for who the Minnesota perpetrator is, other than a few witness sightings of cars darting off into the night, no one knows. Oddly, there’s essentially nothing to gain from the thefts. Even unstamped books that are, technically, sellable to bookstores, fetch prices of about $.15 per copy. If you factor in the cost of gas, the thieves could even be taking a loss. Still, the thefts haven’t yet slowed down, leaving the possibility open for a pack of vigilante detective novelists to set up a sting and secure justice for St. Paul’s readers.

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