Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on Fallon Thefts

The Scotsman has a more complete report today on the case of Oliver Fallon. It's a bit overwritten (first paragraph: "The documents, stained with the patina of time, evoked incense, candlewax and monks in dark cowels. Sitting on a table at the Scottish Catholic Archives was the forgotten history of the Catholic Church, as well as a pay-day for an opportunistic thief.") but it does provide some good background on the case and some more cautionary tales for librarians and archivists (who shouldn't need any more, for goodness' sake!).

"After requesting access to a range of documents, which were then brought into the reading room, Fallon ripped out pages and hid documents inside his notebook, which he then smuggled out at the end of the day.

As the reading room did not have a member of staff present, the thefts went unnoticed until Fallon admitted the crime to police, after they discovered documents from other archives at his home in London."

... did not have a member of staff present? Seriously? I understand understaffing all too well, but c'mon, leaving people totally unsupervised in a reading room? That's just asking for trouble.

"Once he was caught, Fallon sent a letter apologising and returned £14,325 worth of records. But the damaged documents needed almost £5,000 worth of repairs, while 132 documents were still missing. These are worth £12,000.

His solicitor, John Mulholland, said his client disputed the value of the theft, but admitted Fallon was already serving time in England for similar offences."

The English thefts seem not to have made much of a splash over there, but I'm still hoping to get some details on those.

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