Thursday, July 10, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Thomas Pilaar, 34, has been sentenced to pay fines of $53,549 and serve ten years in state prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than 1,400 books and DVDs from libraries in the Denver, Colorado area.

The AP reports "Pilaar was accused of using his own and other people's library cards from Denver, Douglas County, Aurora and Littleton to check out [library materials], which he later sold on Craigslist. About 1,400 books and DVDs were taken by Pilaar, of which only 500 items were recovered. The restitution covers the amount of losses suffered by all the victimized libraries. Denver Public Library last year estimated its losses at $35,000, while Douglas County reported that Pilaar had $11,000 worth of overdue materials, mostly pricey coffee-table books and DVDs."

Pilaar was arrested on unrelated charges last August.

E. Forbes Smiley, who stole at least 100 rare maps from major cultural institutions in the United States and Britain, was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison (and ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution). Sure, the fine is higher, but half the prison time for what was a much more serious cultural crime?

Don't get me wrong: I'm pleased as punch that Pilaar will be spending some serious time behind bars. But what Smiley stole, frankly, is worth a great deal more, culturally (and fiscally) speaking, than the "coffee-table books and DVDs" Pilaar was making off with. I guess we ought to make it a rule that all federal prosecutors come from Colorado, or something ...