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[BKARTS] more about Stephen C. Blumberg



Book thief pleads guilty to burglary after stealing doorknob

KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) -- An antique thief, known throughout the Midwest
for stealing up to $20 million in rare items and books, has pleaded
guilty to third-degree burglary after police in this Mississippi
River town say they found him stealing a doorknob from an abandoned
house.

As part of a plea agreement, Stephen C. Blumberg, 55, of St. Paul,
Minn., pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary in South Lee County
Court on Monday, about four months after his arrest. Police say they
discovered Blumberg in the abandoned home on July 3 after neighbors
reported a strange car was parked in front. During the hearing,
Blumberg said he did not have permission to be in the house, and that
he went in with the intent to take something. "I went into an
abandoned house, looked around to see what was in there, found an old
doorknob and put it in my pocket," said Blumberg, who previously
served 4 1/2 years in prison for stealing thousands of rare books and
antiques from libraries across the United States and Canada. He was
released from prison in 1995. The third-degree burglary is a Class D
felony that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a
fine ranging from $750 to $7,500. Under the plea agreement, the state
recommended a $7,500 fine and five years probation.

Assistant Lee County Attorney Bruce MacDonald said that restitution
to the bank which owns the abandoned home "may be an issue." Arrested
with Blumberg was Steven T. Worden, 27, of Hillsboro, who recently
was convicted of third degree theft in a trial, but did not show up
for his sentencing hearing last week. Investigators said they did not
know who Blumberg was when he was first arrested. They found antiques
and pry bars, hacksaws, glass cutters and other "burglary tools" in a
truck they said was parked in front of the home at the time of
Blumberg's arrest. In 1990, federal agents searched a house Blumberg
owned in Ottumwa and found 28,000 books and documents stolen from 154
college libraries and museums in 45 states and Canada, believed to be
worth up to $20 million. Among the items: a Bible from 1480 and three
shelves of priceless material from 1450-1500, the period following
the invention of the Gutenberg press. Some libraries had no idea the
materials were missing.

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