Theft from libraries is the crime of stealing books, DVDs or other media from libraries. It is typically prevented by installing electronic article surveillance alarms at the doors. Library materials are tagged and if the tag is not deactivated it sounds an alarm. In some libraries with older or rare materials, readers are not allowed to take coats or bags into the reading area except for a few items in a clear plastic bag.
One study commissioned in the UK estimated the average loss rate of libraries to theft at 5.3%.
Library thieves, who may be staff or regular visitors of the library, risk to be discovered if a book is found in the library catalog but missing from the shelves. To avoid this, some library thieves have been careful to also steal the catalog card describing the book.
Rare books departments of libraries especially fall target to professional thieves. In 1996, two rare early Mormon manuscripts were stolen from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, when the thief requested the manuscript and replaced it with a facsimile.
Barry Landau received a sentence of seven years in 2012 for his numerous thefts. Thousands of documents were found in his apartment, some of which were traced back to the Smithsonian Institution, Yale University, the University of Cambridge, the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.
In 2012, after a 61-year old man in Japan was arrested for stealing a dozen library books, a cache of 896 allegedly stolen books was found in his home.
- "Help for Researchers: Cloakroom and Lockers". British Library. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- Planning Public Library Buildings: Concepts and Issues for the Librarian - Michael Dewe - Google Books
- Pennsylvania Library Theft Act, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
- The curious tale of the stolen books, by Martin Vennard for BBC News Magazine, April 24, 2013.
- RBMS Security Committee: Theft Reports 1987-1996
- National Archives intern guilty of theft - The Denver Post
- "Historian in theft plot seeks to sell off assets". CBS News. September 26, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Japanese man brought to book for stealing 900 library books — RT Art & culture