Little Austin Libraries are Being Burglarized by a Real Book Thief

Some super jerk has been lurking the streets of Austin, stealing knowledge and adventure from those who seek to escape into a world unlike their own. Also from people who just need an Idiot’s Guide to teach them how to change their oil. The ‘Little Free Libraries’ that are perched around neighborhoods in Austin are being cleaned out, a shadowy figure stealing books not for pleasure, but for profit. Unfortunately, this version of The Book Thief doesn’t involve a hero in World War II Germany stealing books to share with others. This involves straight up selfishness.

KXAN caught up with one North Austin homeowner/Little Free Library host who set up a surveillance system to try to catch the thief once he realized what was happening. And do you know where he learned to set up that surveillance system? That’s right, a book. OK, it was probably YouTube, but let’s just go with a book.

Anyway, back to this guy. North Austinite Matthew Elssas, who originally built his library three years ago, was browsing his neighborhood NextDoor website and noticed complaints about a burglar burgling other libraries in the area. So, he put the camera in a tree and caught the guy on video. Alas, APD says that there is nothing that they can really do about the complaint because the books are free.

Neighbors are convinced that the bandit is selling the books to used book stores. Though for anyone who has walked into Half Price Books with a full box and walked back out with a shiny quarter and a fancy new bookmark, this racket doesn’t really seem worth the gas.

Alas, “We’ve been strongly advising them to put stamps in their little free library books and then we can look out for them here at Half Price Books in Austin and not buy anything that has those little free library stamps,” Drew Miller, store manager at Half Price Books off North Lamar Boulevard said.

As much as we’d like to see some buttoned-up librarian knock the guy down with a bookmobile, or a masked and caped ‘Nacho Libro’ come and take the guy out, that’s probably not going to happen. So catching this guy isn’t really going to do too much, though he does deserve a good, stern talking to and a few harsh finger wags.

One of the area neighbors speculates that the thief is targeting North Austin, Cedar Park, Northwest Hills, Bouldin, Barton Hills, Allandle, and Oakmont Heights.

KXAN reports this description:

The vehicle reported in several incidents is a full size silver Chevrolet pick up truck (2001) model C/K 1500, license plate # GSW9196.

 The description of the driver:

Middle-aged African-American male, over 6 feet tall.

So hide your Twain and hide your Rowling, because a book thief is on the streets!

Austin has plenty of Little Free Libraries throughout town, so if you’re looking to participate or want to start a library of your own, be sure to check out their website.


Featured photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons licensed