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[BKARTS] again: Stephen Carrie Blumberg

Police say book thief caught in Keokuk with doorknobs

KEOKUK (AP) --- It was confusing when police nabbed two men in a vacant
house in this Mississippi River town earlier this month "in possession
of doorknobs."

It all came together when they began checking the men's identities.

One of the men was Stephen Carrie Blumberg, 54, of St. Paul, Minn., one
of the most notorious rare book thieves in the country. Blumberg served
4.5 years in prison for stealing thousands of rare books and antiques
from libraries across the United States and Canada. He was released from
prison in 1995.

Blumberg and the other man found inside the Keokuk house, Steven Troy
Worden, 27, of Hillsboro, were charged with third-degree burglary. They
were being held Friday in the Lee County Correctional Center under
$20,000 cash only bond apiece.

Neighbors called police the evening of July 3 when they noticed a
strange vehicle parked outside a house that was supposed to be empty,
said police Capt. Tom Crew, head of the criminal investigation division.

The two men were found inside.

"Officers questioned the subjects about their reason for being in the
house and their stories didn't match," Crew said. "The detectives from
CID were called in."

The house is owned by First Community Bank, which had not given the men
permission to be there. They were arrested and charged.

When the paperwork got to the Lee County attorney's office, the case
took an unexpected turn. One of the attorneys recognized Blumberg's

"We checked his criminal history, which we would have done eventually
anyway," Crew said. "But because of the identification we checked
earlier, and sure enough, it was the Blumberg involved in the theft of
collectibles, antiques and rare books. He has an extensive history of
burglaries and thefts throughout the Midwest."

On Monday, police obtained a search warrant for the 1946 blue Chevy
panel truck that had been parked outside.

"We found many items consistent with burglary tools, like pry bars,
hacksaws, glass cutters and some antique items in the vehicle," Crew

He declined to describe the items investigators suspect were stolen,
saying it's an ongoing case.

Blumberg's red brick Victorian house in Ottumwa was torn down in 1999.

In 1990, federal agents searched the house and found 28,000 books and
documents stolen from 154 college libraries and museums in 45 states and
Canada, believed to be worth up to $20 million.

Among the items: a Bible from 1480 and three shelves of priceless
material from 1450-1500, the period following the invention of the
Gutenberg press. Some libraries had no idea the materials were missing.




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