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[BKARTS] Thou shalt not steal... especially a Bible

Thou shalt not steal... especially a Bible

Mar 5 2004

The Good Book looks great to thieves

JANELLE SOU/The Jackson Sun - Despite the Ten Commandments advising,
'Thou shalt not steal,' Bibles are the most frequently shoplifted
books at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Jackson.

There are times when Patsy Cole wants to ... wants to ... Well, she
wants to say what she would like to do to the anonymous morons who
sometimes hit bookstores and make off with Bibles.

Cole talked about this the other day as she sat on the corner edge of
a table at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, just beyond the shelves her hands
have canvassed the past six years. She clenched her fists and raised
her arms slightly, then stopped, remembering she has kids and
realizing members of her church might be reading about this, too.

So she kept it to herself. Well, for a second, anyway.

"Ooh," Cole said. "I really, really get irritated when I see that a
Bible's been stolen."

Despite the Ten Commandments advising, "Thou shalt not steal" in the
book of Exodus, Bibles are the most frequently shoplifted books at
Davis-Kidd, so said store manager Dexter McLeod. And the Good Book
apparently is a really good book - and popular one -among bookstore
thieves nationwide.

McLeod wouldn't give an exact number but indicated more than a dozen
Bibles have been stolen in the past year, and a security chairman for
a national book association called the Bible one of the top picks
among bookstore thieves.

If you can believe that.

"That's something," said Dennis McBride, pastor of Mount Pleasant
Baptist Church in Pinson. "They ought to prosecute (book thieves) to
the fullest extent of the law."

Said Herbert Slack, a Sunday school teacher at Mother Liberty CME
Church in Jackson, "I hope it's nobody I know." Why? Well, he
acknowledged he would bop them upside the head for stealing a Bible.

However, bookstore managers and national associations are hardly
shocked Bibles top the most stolen list, though it's not a list that
the chain bookstores and book associations are willing to share. Not
even the folks who compile the New York Times Bestsellers Lists, the
weekly rankings compiled from more than 50,000 wholesalers and
bookstores, have such a list. But Bible theft is big.

"I'm not surprised. Religious books are one of the top theft
categories, oddly enough," said Ken Sanders, security chairman for
Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, an organization that
trades and sells high-priced books. He also works with chain
bookstores out of Salt Lake City. "The occult and anything sex-
related also seem to be the top category for theft."

Cole has just about had it, though, and her mettle has been tested in
recent days. Just last week, she said she walked into the
spirituality section at Davis-Kidd and noticed plastic wrapping
stuffed behind Bibles priced in the $40 to $80 range. Gone was a
Bible, though she was quick not to say it had been stolen. She'd like
to believe the good in people. She has a son and two step-sons and
attends St. Mary's Catholic Church.

"It could be anywhere in the store," Cole said.

But she doubts it.

In Jackson, independent bookstore owners said they haven't been hit
by thieves, and chain bookstores referred questions to their
corporate offices, though numerous messages went unreturned.

"It comes in cycles," said McLeod, who has directly overseen
inventory for two years now and has lost Bibles to theft despite
placing front-door security screens and fanning 10 workers across the
store on Saturdays, the days that attract the most customers.

"Can you imagine going to church with a stolen Bible?" Cole said.

Actually, Bible thieves may not exactly be heading to church. At
least not right away. Sanders, the security chairman of the
booksellers association for the past five years, said book thieves
are professionals who likely sell their stolen goods on the Internet.
And, if they aren't professionals, he believes the books are stolen
by people looking for a quick dollar or two, people who will head to
the nearest used-book store just to get some money.

"In 15 or 30 minutes, that book has been sold," Sanders said.

Cole is up in arms.

"If I could afford it, I would give everybody a Bible," Cole said.
"For all the information you get in the Bible, it's worth the price."
She paused, caught her breath and then added this: "The perfect world
is honest, but we're not there yet."

- Kary Booher, (731) 425-9680





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