Thief Sentenced to 25 Months in Prison for Stealing 7,000 Library Books

- by Michael Stillman


A thief who stole 7,000 library books will be spending 25 months as a house guest of law authorities in Edinburgh, Scotland. The books have been valued at £80,000 (approximately US $100,000). Darren Barr, 28, stole the books from three universities, Edinburgh, Napier, and Heriot-Watt, the vast majority coming from Napier. It makes you think that perhaps their security needs some beefing up.


The thefts took place from October, 2017 through August, 2018. Barr was arrested on September 2, 2018.


Barr signed up at the libraries using an alias. He would enter wearing a backpack, as students often do these days, which he would fill with books. He also carried a separate bag. Obviously, no one was checking him out when he left. While not noticed at the time, video surveillance cameras later confirmed his modus operandi. He then brought the books to an online bookseller who sold through Amazon. By the time he was arrested, Barr had sold 7,000 books and taken in almost £40,000 for himself.


Barr's luck began to run out when a student purchased two books from Amazon and discovered they had the Napier University stamp on them. They also had a “withdrawn” stamp, though this was found to be a counterfeit. An inventory check revealed that thousands of books were missing from Napier. The operation began to unravel even more when a PhD. student attempted to borrow a textbook from the Heriot-Watt University Library. Their records showed they had six copies, but not one could be found. Frustrated, she ordered a copy on Amazon. When it arrived, she discovered that it was the university's copy, again with a fake withdrawn stamp.


Detective Sergeant Dougal Begg stated, "This is one of the most brazen and high-value thefts from our universities that I can ever recall and the amount of money Darren Barr was able to make by reselling stolen books is staggering.


"Had it not been for the staff at Edinburgh Napier University raising their concerns about missing stock, we may never have uncovered what Barr was up to and even larger quantities of books may have ended up being taken from the institutions. We conducted a thorough investigation that identified the scale of Darren Barr's offending and ensured he was brought to justice.”