Neighbors Donate Dozens of Books After Thieves Wipe Out Free Community Library

Homeowner claims thieves were driving “beat up” black Mercedes filled with books

NBC Universal, Inc.

It’s that time of year when porch pirates are on the prowl, hitting up unsuspecting targets during the holidays. But there may be another trend on the rise involving stolen books from those free community libraries.

There’s a free little community library located on Limerick Avenue in the North Clairemont neighborhood that is now empty after about 40 books were stolen.

The homeowner said it happened Friday around 3 p.m.

“A little angry, yeah quite angry,” homeowner Mary Williamson said.

Williamson said her husband caught a man and woman taking the books while driving in a beat-up black Mercedes.

“My husband came out and the guy threw the book box that he had of our books into his car and his wife; and he got away,” Williamson said. “They made the light, and my husband didn’t make the light.”

A tiny note is now posted on the box to inform the community that the books were stolen.

The library was built by Williamson’s husband and for the last five years, its provided free books to anyone who wants to exchange books for someone else to read. 

“It worked really great during COVID cause people weren’t going to libraries, or they were closed. So, we kept it open,” Williamson said.

This is the third time in as many months the library has been emptied. The homeowners believe thieves are trying to make a profit off their community service.

“They had a whole car of books, so they’re clearly selling them on eBay, or a flea market,” Williamson said. “They’re making money off these free community libraries.”

Williamson has noticed similar community library theft posts on Nextdoor and thinks the book thieves are using an online database on the non-profit’s website, to track down the libraries.

Williamson posted what happened on Nextdoor and has received more than 100 comments. People have already started dropping off more books to fill up the empty space.

The support has been overwhelming for Williamson and she hopes the thieves never come back again.

“Stop it,” Williamson said, “What you’re doing is so wrong.”

The homeowners are now thinking about adding surveillance cameras and a lock. The library will be up and running in a few days.

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