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[BKARTS] Rutgers University: Book thefts total $5K yearly

Book thefts total $5K yearly
By Julie Compton / Correspondent

Whether you're at the library, the dining hall or even in your home, no
place is a safe place to leave textbooks unattended for any period of time,
according to Rutgers University Police Department Detective Thomas Chartoff.

In fact, textbook thefts happen more often than students realize, he said.
The RUPD, Chartoff said, receives about two or three stolen textbook reports
each month, though there are probably a lot more cases that go unreported.

Thousands of dollars are lost in textbook thefts each year, he said.

"The average textbook theft is at least a hundred dollars," Chartoff said.
"At two or three [stolen books] a month, at that average we're talking maybe
four or five thousand dollars a year."

Chartoff said that so far, three arrests have been made in response to
reports of stolen textbooks.

Most recently, a case was reported where $420 worth of textbooks was stolen
from the psychology building on Busch campus, he said.

Chartoff said the best way that students can protect themselves from the
crime is to never leave their textbooks unattended.

In order to make it easier for police to flag stolen books, students should
pick a certain page within each textbook and write their names and driver's
license numbers in the spine, where thieves will not think to look.

Kevin Renshaw, director of the Rutgers University Bookstore, a thief can
receive up to half of the original price of a stolen textbook.

Renshaw said receipts are only required for full refunds of textbooks and
all an individual needs to sell back a book is a valid student ID.

"There has to be some kind of semblance of trust that the person coming to
me is selling their own property," Renshaw said. "If they're providing a
valid student ID, then we have some record of that transaction and the

Many students may wonder, "Who would want to steal my chemistry book?" but
Renshaw said textbooks are hot commodities for thieves because they are easy
to resell anywhere.

"There's a market for textbooks," he said. "Every single University
bookstore and off-campus store around campus buys and sells textbooks and
[they] can be resold online, too. [Textbooks] are a commodity with a dollar

Roger Smith, assistant head of Access/Collection Services at the Alexander
Library on the College Avenue campus, said that while the usual frequency of
stolen textbooks in the library is once a month, the end of last semester
and the beginning of the current semester were met with a frequency of about
once a week.

Smith said the Alexander Library took steps to alleviate the problem by
making isolated study areas more open, which provides less cover for thieves
to steal.

Textbook theft is a "communitywide problem," Smith said, which is not
specific to libraries.

Smith said the thefts occur just as frequently in campus dining halls,
student centers, food courts or wherever textbooks are left unattended.

"We heavily encourage our patrons not to leave materials unattended for any
length of time, even for a few minutes to go to the restroom," Smith said.
"Sometimes, that's all it takes."


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