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Manhattan Bookstore Owner Helps Nab Alleged Serial Library Book Thief

Donald Davis, An Ex-Marine And Wrestler, Set Up Sting That Went By The Book

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was an unwelcome plot twist for an accused book thief caught scamming his way through Manhattan book shops.

The suspect was indicted Friday.

CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown was in the East Village to tell this real page-turner of a story.

To Donald Davis, books are the windows to the world.

So, when he heard someone was using them in a scheme to make money he was furious.

“It just made me and makes a lot of people angry that somebody would actually steal from the library,” Davis said.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks with bookstore owner Donald Davis

Investigators warned Davis — and other bookstore owners in the area — that the suspect, Andrew Hansen, was stealing valuable books from the New York Public Library, stripping the stickers and bar codes and then selling them to used book shops, netting thousands of dollars in the process.

“I think there’s a certain amount of book loss that happens at libraries or any public institutions,” New York Public Library spokesperson Gayle Snible told 1010 WINS. “It’s somebody that we’ve been looking at for a little while and this is an extreme case.”

Davis, the owner of East Village Books, was so determined to catch the thief that he set up a small-scale sting.

“The code word was ‘where’s my delivery’?” Davis said.

So when Hansen showed up and tried to peddle $300 worth of books, Davis, a former high school wrestler, was able to read between the lines.

“I told him you’re not going anywhere. We’re waiting for the police and he tried to get around me and I pushed him into a chair,” Davis said.

Surveillance cameras were rolling.

“I’m an ex-Marine, but I went all the way back to high school to get the moves to restrain this guy without hurting him,” Davis said.

The suspect is well known in literary circles and library police said they’ve been onto him for years, but haven’t been able to catch him until now. His reputation had gotten him banned from The Strand in Union Square, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports: Felony Charge Could Carry Up To 7 Years In Prison

Davis said he’s not keen on being a one-man crime-stopping squad and usually roots for the underdog.

“The guy’s on the ground and saying I didn’t steal from you and I’m thinking, yeah, that’s right you didn’t steal from me, but the people that you stole from are the people who really need the library,” Davis said.

For now, Hansen is behind bars and as for Davis it has been something of a storybook ending.

Sources said Hansen has been arrested at least twice in the past for trying to steal books and his library privileges were revoked in 2009. He’s now being held on $7,500 bail. He’s due back in court on Oct. 19.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • also concerned citizen

    end these emails

  • innocent

    i get the feeling the police and others also send alerts to shops and libraries about me.. except i’ve never stolen anything.. the beepers go off because they don’t bother to scan the items properly.

    I think they do it on purpose and then say “that’s ok” just to get it on camera to cast suspicion about me.

    In fact i am the opposite. I got given change for a $50 when i only paid with a $20 and i made them check the float because they believed they’d given me the right change. I wasn’t trying to scam anyone. I know others do i’ve seen it on tele.

  • Scott

    Just put a law in place that a book sold over a certain dollar value has to be accompanied by a receipt of purchase from the seller (or if a gift they must attest that it was a gift under perjury) or the seller can be fined and/or prosecuted. While I am not for more government, our libraries belong to all of us and all of us have needed them at one time or another. Them when someone steals library book, just like jewelry a record will exist and a thief can be caught.

  • Russ

    I hope they throw the book at him/


    Where is his picture? Oh that’s right. If he were Black, Hispanic or non-white we would have a mug shot with this story. Good he was caught. Sad journalist have bias when they report.

    • Jackie

      there is a picture in the video, at 00:32. And he does look Hispanic. SURPRISE!

  • Johanna Fredrics

    Just want to say I am glad that he has been caught.
    The majority of customers in the library are respecful, honest people who appreciate having books, CDs, DVD’s, etc. available to check out for free. The people who use libraries deserve to have the materials available when they need them. There is nothing more arrogant than this person thinking he has the right to steal and make a buck off of the items we pay for with our taxes.
    Yay for the man who caught him.

  • also concerned citizen

    Yo, Daly. Selling stolen books, citizens arrest, storekeeper allowed to detain and use appropriate force. Lots of case law on all of this

  • Lucius Junius Brutus

    Not so. If you think so I dare you to go steal frrom a local branch. Unless you want to take the book apart you will get caught.

  • sigusmunt Kreusz

    What infuriates me as much is the libraries deciding, on god-knows-whose judgement, to “de-accession” books.
    The thief might get of jail to see the books he was stealing being sold at the front of a branch library for 50c or 2 bucks.
    I have had to wait for weeks for books to be delivered from out of Manhattan, that were once kept here in my neighborhood. Eventually, they disaPPEAR because they don’t have enough readership!!! I thought a library was to keep unread books for later generations!(Go see if you can find Tros, or the Purple Pirate, fbulous historical novels from the 20’s. I dare you. . .
    I recall when the Branch was upgraded at 96th st some years ago, the entire collection of Janes Fighting Ships of the World, all the annual volumes back to before the war was stolen by either a Library employee or, more likely a moving and storage company.
    I hope the kid gets out or at least get’s to work in the prison library.

  • Phil

    Hopefully one of the books he originally stole was, “How to Prevent Homosexual Rape in Prison”

  • Johnny Handsome

    Wow! What news! NEXT!

  • Daly

    When Hansen tried to leave the store, Davis, who had been a high school wrestler, slammed him to the ground and tussled with him until police arrived.

    Davis, was he actively engaged in criminal behaviour at your store?
    If not, prepare to be be arrested and sued for kidnapping.

    • Aspasia

      Daly, get a brain. Possession, buying, or selling stolen property is a crime. Especially if you steal it and resell it. So yes, coming into a store and attempting to sell stolen items IS actively engaging in criminal behavior.

  • saltine

    Nobody reads anymore anyway and those books will soon be obsolete and thrown away or given away by the top library personnel anyhow.

    At least this man appreciates literature?

  • mg

    Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y’know that little stamp, the one that says “New York Public Library”? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I’ve seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. What’s this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we’re too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn’t HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you’d better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that’s how y’get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y’got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week! – Mr. Bookman

    • Eddie Cuevas




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