By Heather Killen
Thanks to thieves, the Middleton library is paying a heavy price to lend books, games, videos and reference materials and provide free access to computers and the Internet.
The Rosa M. Harvey Middleton and Area Library was robbed again on January 1. This is the fourth time thieves have targeted the branch, according to manager Sue Aldred.
This recent break-in resulted in the loss of a digital camera, a few hundred dollars in donations, and a damaged steel door. Also discouraging was the nasty mess the staff found waiting on Wednesday morning.
“They did mean things this time,” Aldred said. “They threw things around, dumped bottles of liquid soap on the floor and put things in the toilet.”
Staff had been collecting donations of small change to buy new children’s books. This money was stolen, along with another private memorial donation, and gift money staff had collected to help a homeless family during the holidays.
“People just can’t believe that someone would break-in and steal from a place that is here for everyone’s benefit,” she said. “A place where everything is free for people to use.”
These reoccurring thefts and subsequent property repairs are becoming a costly problem for the library. The first break-in wasn’t successful and only resulted in property damage, but the subsequent incidents have been adding up.
To date the branch will have been forced to replace three windows and now one steel door; it has lost an Xbox, two digital cameras, as well as the cash donations.
The staff had been doing everything possible to discourage thieves, she added.
Bushes had been cut back from windows, lights were left switched on at night. Now Aldred said she worries the next possible step could mean another costly expense for a group that relies on public money and private donations to buy the books and reference materials it lends.
“We’ve done everything we can to stop the break-ins, the only thing that hasn’t been done is to install an alarm system,” she said. “But they are expensive and that decision isn’t something we can make on our own.”