In the Press – The Peculiar Underworld of Rare-Book Thieves
Stealing books? For a long time it seemed to take place in fiction. The public did not take much attention of rare book thieves. This finally changed with the looting of the Girolamini Library in Naples. John Ruch talked with Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, manager of the FBI’s Art Theft Program, and Gonzalo Fernandez Pontes, ILAB Security Chair, about the problem of rare book thefts and what one can do against it. For John Ruch one decisive means to prevent book thefts and to catch book thieves is the ILAB Stolen Book Database:
“The best database may be stolen-book.org. Operated by the ILAB, it allows member booksellers to post descriptions and photos of stolen books in as little as 10 minutes, with an automatic email alert going to all members around the world. Books added in recent years include a 1589 Bible and first editions of everything from Winnie the Pooh to Naked Lunch.
The simple system works. One recent example: a couple used a forged £12,000 check to steal a first edition of the James Bond novel Casino Royale in London, then they tried to quickly sell it in New York City.
“They were completely unaware of how ILAB’s information email system works, and this led to their arrest,” ILAB Security Chair Pontes said.”