Library shelves, that are just as likely to be filled with the latest DVDs these days as with books, have become tempting targets for thieves who see them as easy targets. In fact, one such dimwit has just been nabbed in Colorado , but only after he managed to walk away with several thousand items that he hoped to sell at online sites such as Craiglist.
Thomas Pilaar, 33, obtained seven library cards from the Denver Public Library by using different names, CBS4 investigator Brian Maass learned....
The library says Pilaar then checked out as many as 300 items on each card, selling many of them via the Web site Craigslist.com.
A woman who recently bought books from Pilaar through Craigslist noticed the library identification stamps and alerted authorities.
"It appears his intent was to sell 2,100 (items) from the Denver Library collection," said Jackson, who estimated the losses at about $35,000.
Denver is hardly alone. Librarians from Aurora, Arapahoe County and Douglas County say they too have been victimized in recent months by Pilaar. Arapahoe County library administrators said Pilaar obtained three different library cards and checked out between 250 and 300 items.
James Larue, Douglas County's head librarian, said Pilaar checked out more than 300 items from two Douglas County libraries, mostly DVDs and pricey coffee table books. He says the library system's losses stand at $11,000.
"Just like any other system, it's possible to abuse it. And this guy, if he is who he claims to be, shows up at some of the libraries and developed very quickly a pattern of just not acting like an ordinary patron and checking out way too many DVDs."What went wrong here? I can easily understand how someone could use a false identity to obtain a library card. After all, thousands of illegal aliens are wandering around this country with false Social Security cards and driver's licenses, so how hard can it be to obtain a fake library card? But don't libraries have some kind of limit in place that would prohibit a new patron from checking out 300 items at a time, especially when most of the items are DVDs? Now that almost all library systems track everything via computer systems, how could they so easily be ripped off? Why aren't there better controls in place to protect the public's investment in its libraries?
The Denver District Attorney's Office is investigating the library thefts and is considering filing criminal charges against Pilaar.
I have, at times, had as many as twelve or thirteen items checked out of the Harris County library system and I figured that I might be approaching the limit of what they would let me have out at one time. In fact, I was hoping that was the case because I find it so irritating to walk up to near-empty DVD shelves just as one patron walks away with a dozen DVDs in her hands. How many movies can one person watch in seven days?
Perhaps it's time for libraries to put some common sense limitations on just how many items one person is allowed to cart off without returning some of the loot. Hey, I'm just saying...