Textbook thefts pick up around finals week

Thieves sell the books back for a quick buck.

As the semester nears an end, many students are turning to campus bookstores or online marketplaces to sell their used textbooks. However, thieves are capitalizing on the buyback opportunities as well. Students around campus experienced an increased number of thefts last week âÄî 21 in total, University of Minnesota police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said . At least four of these thefts occurred at University libraries. Last Friday, two students had their belongings, including textbooks, stolen from Walter Library after leaving for a short time to go to the bathroom. One of those students, Wei Chen , a 19-year-old international economics first-year student from China, got $300 in cash and a statistics book stolen from his workstation. âÄúIt is near finals and people can sell books,âÄù Wei said. âÄúI think it is important to have more security near finals.âÄù Student security monitors patrol the Wilson, Walter, Bio-medical and Law libraries each afternoon, University Security Monitor Program Manager Ben Schnabel said. Although the monitors are able to check and act as a âÄúvisual deterrentâÄù to theft, there are no fool-proof ways to keep textbook theft in check, Schnabel said. âÄúLeaving your things unattended, even for a small period of time, is the worst decision a person could make,âÄù Schnabel said. The average textbook at University of Minnesota bookstores costs $55. If the bookstore needs a textbook, they will buy it back for 50 percent of its listed cost during finals week, University Bookstore Director Bob Crabb said. Once stolen, there are limited ways to track books, he said. âÄúThe precaution a student could take is to, at some page inside the book, write something that would identify the book,âÄù Crabb said. âÄúBut IâÄôm not sure how practical that is during the really busy times.âÄù The bookstore requires people selling books back to display their U Card to ensure they are a student. A textbook does not have to be purchased from a University bookstore in order to be sold back, Crabb said. It is possible for students to steal books off bookstore shelves and sell them back immediately, but Crabb said it is a risky move. âÄúWe have a very healthy security presence in the store, with cameras and plain clothes [security],âÄù he said. âÄú[Thieves] would be taking significant risk and would face prosecution.âÄù Most on-campus thefts come from unattended property, Miner said. âÄúWhether it is resident halls, libraries or a study lounge, thatâÄôs how stuff is disappearing,âÄù Miner said. âÄúSimple concept âÄî donâÄôt leave your valuables unattended.âÄù