I’ve long assumed that religious book stores don’t have to deal with a lot of shoplifting. After all, who has the gall to steal a copy of the Bible?
But that calculus changes when the religious paraphernalia is more of an artifact and is worth significant money. A Torah, for instance, costs thousands of dollars and have on occasion gone missing. A story from this past week demonstrates that.
Federal marshals discovered in a Herndon, Va., apartment a first edition leather-bound Book of Mormon that had allegedly been stolen from a Phoenix bookstore. It is valued at $50,000 to $100,000.
Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post reports:
Jay Michael Linford, a fellow Mormon bookseller who had been “like a grandson” to the shop’s owner, was arrested at his friend’s apartment and charged with theft and trafficking in stolen property.
The news last month that Helen Spencer Schlie’s first edition had been stolen spread quickly through the small, tightknit world of rare-book dealers, who were aware of Schlie’s book as one of 5,000 original 1830 copies of the Book of Mormon, which is viewed by Mormons as sacred text.
But the theft didn’t elicit much sympathy for the Mesa, Ariz., widow, who had become something of a pariah for removing individual pages from the book and offering them for sale.
“Divine intervention,” a prominent Salt Lake City bookseller said about the theft.
Read the rest here.