Book theft ring busted
Posted at: 08/18/2010 6:11 PM | Updated at: 08/18/2010 8:13 PM
By: Kayla Anderson, Eyewitness News 4; Taryn Bianchin, KOB.com
Prosecutors tell Eyewitness News 4 they can finally prosecute a theft ring after nearly three years of investigation.
The last of seven suspects was arrested on Tuesday in what investigators say was a theft ring that stole high-priced books from UNM’s medical library, then sold them back to the University Bookstore.
“All of the other defendants have been arrested at some point in time. We opted to wait until the last defendant was arrested until we proceeded,” DA Kari Brandenburg said.
In what she calls a sophisticated scheme, the suspects went as far as removing security tags, markings and even book pages. They even recruited unsuspecting students to help them sell the books back to UNM.
A criminal complaint says the suspects traveled across New Mexico and Texas stealing books, then selling them for profit. As the final suspect appeared in court on Wednesday and soon all of the suspects will be indicted by a grand jury.
“Receiving stolen property, damage to property, racketeering, because this was a scheme of a number of people working together for the sole purpose of engaging in criminal activity. And racketeering is a second degree felony,” Brandenburg said, running down the list of possible charges.
As this case makes its way through the court system, Eyewitness News 4 checked in with UNM police. They say despite the ring getting busted-up, they expect to see another surge in thefts, normally observing an increase around the start of each semester. Police said they arrested another suspect on an unrelated case Tuesday.
“They’re not students. They’re people coming that are coming in from off the street,” said UNM Police Lt. Robert Haarhues.
Authorities estimate the theft ring cost UNM $2,700, but the district attorney says the actual loss spans across five states and totals between $10,000 to $20,000.