Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2016 Issue

A Tale of Two Not Too Bright Book Thieves

Mr. Luo surreptitiously shoves books into his pants.

Book thieves are often clever, though not ethical, but even the smartest of thieves eventually makes a mistake. Frequently, it will come in attempts to sell the material, such as an eBay listing for a rare item that an expert, perhaps thousands of miles away, suspects is a stolen copy. Other times, the thief may leave evidence behind – the notorious dropped razor blade on the library floor, or the gap in the bookshelves. However, the thief who broke into All The Rage Comics in Festus, Missouri, left something behind no thief should ever leave behind. He left his cellphone.

 

The burglar hit the comic book store early in the morning before opening by breaking through the back door. He didn't take much, the most notable item being the store's cash register (it was empty). Why a thief would even bring a cellphone to a burglary is hard to understand, but take it out and leave it on the counter? Couldn't he have waited until he left the scene of the crime to check up on his social media? When police arrived, he received a call. Naturally, he was not there to answer it, but when the ringing stopped, the phone, which was lying face up, displayed a photograph. It was a picture of its owner. He was flexing his muscles, displaying he was more brawn than brains. A check of the phone revealed further identification of the thief. He was arrested the following day.

 

In turn, the shop described itself as the "home of the 'smart' phone bandit." The phone was smart, but not the bandit.

 

Another not too bright "book collector" appeared on camera in a book store in Weinan, a city of 5 million in China's Shanxi Province. Sometimes, it's not such a good idea to appear on film. A Mr. Luo went to his local store and priced out a book he wanted to buy. He then picked out ten others he did not wish to buy. That is not to say he did not want the books, he just didn't want to buy them. So he stuffed the other ten inside his pants.

 

How he managed to walk to the cashier's station that way, or why his awkward gate was not obvious, is not clear. No one noticed, no one, that is, except the lady at the other end of the camera. Mr. Luo quite unwisely chose to stuff the books in his pants in front of a security camera. Like leaving your cellphone behind, this is one of those things a thief should never do. Presumably, he knows this now.

 

Not only was the security camera capturing his every move, it was being viewed live at the other end by the shopkeeper. She became suspicious that Mr. Luo was holding his books down, not up, as people normally do when reading them. She became even more leery when she observed him pushing the books into his waist. After the gentleman purchased his book and proceeded to exit, the shopkeeper asked if he had any other books, to which Mr. Luo replied no. With that, she called the police, who promptly searched and arrested him. Mr. Luo explained he was getting the books to sell to a friend, who most likely was not a devoted reader, but someone in the business of selling stolen books.

 

Some book thieves are smarter than others, but there's only one sure way not to get caught. Don't steal in the first place.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    BROWSE NOW
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Closing Time, Advance Readers Copy of Uncorrected Proof with a letter from Heller on his personal stationary
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Gates, Bill, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, N Y: Knopf, 2021; first edition, with a handwritten note from Bill Gates
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Catch-22, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961, first edition, first printing, first issue dust jacket, inscribed on the front end paper by Heller
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Something Happened, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, first edition, inscribed on the front end paper by Heller
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, London: John Murray, 1818, in four volumes

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions