Museum Thieves Could Face 20 Years in Prison
If you were going to steal something because of its resale value, what would it be? Jewelry? Electronics? Gold and silver coins? Most people are aware that these items can easily be resold if stolen, and so they keep their valuables secured. Unless you have professional knowledge of rare books, it probably would not even cross your mind that people would want to steal them. Why would someone want to steal heavy, dusty books when you can find almost any text you could ever want to read by accessing it online or downloading it onto a mobile device? To most of us, antique books just seem like clutter, but if you have bought and sold them before, you know that some rare, out of print books can fetch a high price. To a museum worker and an antique book dealer, trading in stolen books was the perfect crime, at least until they got caught. If you are facing criminal charges for stealing books or anything else, contact a Pennsylvania theft crimes defense lawyer.
How Bad Is It to Steal a Book, Anyway?
Almost anyone would agree that stealing is a less serious crime than murder or rape, for example, but depending on how much you steal and the context in which you steal it, you can end up with a long prison sentence if you are found guilty of theft. Whether theft is a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the stolen property. Finding a book in a used book store and walking out without paying for it is probably a misdemeanor, unless it is something like a first edition of On the Origin of Species inscribed with a handwritten note from Charles Darwin to Queen Victoria. Theft becomes a more serious crime when it also involves conspiracy, fraud, or violence or threat thereof.
In the News
Two men have pled guilty to stealing nearly half a million dollars in antique books and other artifacts from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in order to resell them. Gregory Priore managed one of the library’s special collections for over a decade, so he had access to items in the library’s collection that were not on display for the public. He embezzled $500,000 worth of books, maps and other archive items and sold them to John Schulman, the owner of the Caliban Bookshop in Oakland. One of the items Schulman resold was a Bible printed in the 17th century; it later resurfaced in the Netherlands. They had originally been charged with conspiracy and other crimes in addition to theft, but due to a plea deal, they were able to get the charges reduced to simple theft. Because the stolen items were so valuable, though, they could each face up to 20 years in prison.
Contact an Attorney Today for Help
The same allegations of theft could result in vastly different outcomes depending on what your defense lawyer is able to achieve. Contact Pittsburgh theft crimes attorney Gary E. Gerson about criminal charges.