Thousands turn up missing and reported stolen every year across the country. They disappear from public places, libraries, building lobbies, stores. And now, with the holiday’s approaching, disappearances are on the rise. Despite the abuse they may go through on a daily basis, school textbooks are a high-dollar commodity that will catch the eye of any thief. The textbooks used on the SHSU campus are no exception to these harsh realities.
According to UPD Col. Dennis Culak, two textbooks were shoplifted last Thursday from Barnes and Noble’s University Bookstore. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, the same books, valued at $120 and $104, were sold to the Kampus Korner Bookstore on the corner of Sam Houston Avenue and 20th Street.
Culak said one male and two females were reported “acting suspiciously” in the University Bookstore on the day of the incident. Once the people left the store, one book was noted as missing from an area where the suspects were standing.
Shortly after, a female was reported to have sold two books to Kampus Korner, which unlike the other bookstores does not require their customers to show identification, only to sign the receipt with their name and social security number. In this case, the woman signed the name “Tamie Williams,” was paid $60 for both books and then left the store. After buying the books, an employee at Kampus Korner called the University Bookstore to see if the books were stolen.
Owner of Kampus Korner Wayne Rainwater said his employee grew suspicious “probably because the books were new. You can tell a book is newthey pop when opened for the first time.”
Rainwater said the $120 book was “probably a Calculus book, the other I’m not sure about.”
The investigation for the stolen textbooks is still ongoing.
Culak said stealing a textbook is, at minimum, a Class C Misdemeanor, with the degree of the offense depending on the value of the theft. If the thief turns out to be a student, in addition to a visit with a judge, they will be sent to the Office of Student Life. There the thief could face a verbal warning or an even greater punishment.
There is more of a threat of textbooks being stolen from other students than being taken from bookstores, Culak explained.
“Many textbooks are stolen from the library, along with backpackslobby areas and in dorm rec rooms,” he said.
Culak encouraged students to not leave textbooks in their car or study area unattended.
“I know it may be an inconvenience,” he said, “but, if you have to get up from your study area for a moment, it’s better to pack your bags and take them with you than leave them unattended.”
In case your textbooks ever get stolen, Culak said it is wise to put some form of identification within the book.
“Not your social security number, (but writing) your name or circling the page numbers of your date of birth will work,” Culak said.
“Highlighting (certain passages) won’t work,” said Barnes and Noble’s University Bookstore Manager Jesse Nelson, “because 20 people could have used a yellow highlighter, for example.”
According to Nelson, if a book is reported stolen, the bookstores collaborate on finding the wanted text.
“If a student reports a book stolen, we’ll watch out for it if someone tries to sell it,” he said.