Book bandits make off with over 70 books from ‘Little Free Library’ in Portsmouth

Posted at 2:15 PM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 16:56:02-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. -  Caroline Barnes' "Little Free Library" is overflowing with page turners.

"You can see the different types of things we have in there: Children's books, adult books, classics," she described. "We put this stamp in the books that says, 'Always a gift, never for sale'," she said.

But on Sunday night, that "never for sale" stamp took on a whole new meaning.

"Monday morning, we came out and much to our surprise, the bins were gone. We thought, 'Well, that's odd,'" said Barnes.

Just before midnight, Barnes' Ring doorbell camera caught a group of teenagers loading up more than 70 books into bins and taking off.

"We heard them a little on the video say, 'We are going to sell these,' and and I thought, 'You are stinkers,'" she said. "It was a bit heartbreaking, though, because I wondered, 'What are they thinking?'"

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Barnes showed her video to Portsmouth Police, but they couldn't do anything about the bad bookworms.

"It is not a crime because the books are free, so nothing is illegal," she said.

But on Tuesday, a plot twist would come.

"A few days after the books were stolen, I got call from a former neighbor that now lives in Carrolton and she still has a rental here in Park View," Barnes explained. "She went to check on her rental that was just vacant and really a mess and found one of our tub of books in the corner."

"What a crazy way to put the two together, but got at least part of them back," said Barnes.

One thing Barnes didn't get back - Bibles that were stolen.

"We are hoping maybe they are using some of it for moral guidance because they sure need it," said Barnes.

Since the theft, Barnes has restocked the library with the help of donations from the community.

"This belongs to the community, there is such value in holding a book, we want children and adults to use this as a resource," said Barnes.

To find a "Little Free Library" in your neighborhood, click here.