Stolen UH Manoa library books recovered - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Stolen UH Manoa library books recovered

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Jan Sung Jan Sung
Myles Breiner Myles Breiner

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 23 year old transfer student from Colorado is being investigated for stealing 208 books from the Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.  His attorney says it was a terrible decision made out of desperation for money.

Analysis of the Egyptian Mythology and Excursions in the Interior of Russia are two of the rather obscure books that were stolen.  They are also nearly 200 years old and all the stolen books have a unique value to the library.

Librarians are scanning and stacking the stolen books.  The oldest of which was published in 1799.  The value of all 208 books is somewhere between $40,000 to $100,000 but it's the information that means more to the library.

"Of course many things are online nowadays still these books are very valuable to our researchers and our students," said Jan Sung, who runs the book circulation at the library.

Among the missing were all 32 volumes of Napoleon's Correspondence.

"The entire set got taken away and came back we are so happy," said Sung.

The suspect is described as a bibliophile, someone who loves books.  But more than the content bibliophiles like the binding and look of a book.  However being a library book usually makes it less valuable because of the schools markings and stamps.  It's also how you know if a book is stolen.

"So if a book shows up at a book dealers shop with a property stamp on it that means it's still ours and most likely it's been stolen," said Alan Grosenheider, Associate University Librarian for Administration.

The suspect sent six volumes to a dealer in California to appraise but then the dealer called UH just in case.

"He knew better to check. He didn't want to be responsible for fencing stolen goods that would be a crime on his part then if he thought they were stolen," said Grosenheider.

The library also thanks the manager at the Waikiki Skyliner Building where the suspect lives.  He stopped the suspect when he saw all the books in the elevator.

"The resident manager stopped him and would not allow him to take the books out and contacted police and uh and so the resident manager deserves his kudos," said Myles Breiner, Defense Attorney.

Breiner also admits his bookworm client didn't quite think out the conclusion to the crime.

"This wasn't really a thought crime. As I understand it according to Detective Anderson he kind of laughed at the notion my client sent the books with an invoice, with his name, with his address he wasn't hiding who he was," said Breiner. "Is he remorseful? Sure he's remorseful he got caught."

Breiner also says his client has a clean record and no history of abusing drugs or alcohol, but he did become desperate for money.

"I think part of it was because he was reading in this area and had an interest in this area he took one book after another and it morphed into something," said Breiner.  "It's just unfortunate he made some very terrible decisions. Bad judgment on his part."

Now he faces a theft charge for each stolen book.  It could lead to prison time and if convicted would give him ample time to read.

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