Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New Zealand Book-Thieves Sentenced

In New Zealand, a gang of book thieves who have targeted libraries and museums for more than ten years have been sentenced for their crimes, as part of Operation Pukapuka (Maori for book). The effort "cracked down on the organised theft of at least 2500 books over 10 years, with a retail value of at least $1 million."

While more than half of the books have been recovered, police say many were sold to overseas buyers and cannot be located. "The thieves' modus operandi was almost ridiculously simple. They breached the system of trust by enrolling at libraries using a variety of false identities to borrow books, and once at home, removed any marks identifying them as belonging to a library."

At least five people have been or soon will be sentenced for their roles in the theft ring.

[Update: In another twist to this story, 301 charges against a Christchurch book dealer for receiving stolen property in this case have been tossed."John Arnold Palmer, 77, who runs Arnold's Books in New Regent Street, is in deteriorating health and wishes to sell the business but the huge indictment has stopped that happening." The judge, citing substantial delays, has granted Palmer's request that charges against him be dropped. Via Shelf:Life]

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