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[BKARTS] Security tighter after theft of rare library items



Security tighter after theft of rare library items


DES MOINES (AP) - Although the State Historical Society has recovered a slew
of rare materials a patron took from the state's library, officials say they
are moving ahead with plans to step up security.

"These are materials that are irreplaceable. These are one-of-a-kind letters
or diaries or photographs, maps, things that don't exist anywhere else,"
said Shaner Magalhaes, library administrator for the State Historical
Society.

Corey Phelps, 58, of Des Moines pleaded guilty to theft this week in Polk
County District Court.

Nineteenth-century photographs and historical documents bearing signatures
of former U.S. presidents and other dignitaries were among the items he
admitted taking.

State troopers said that about 8,000 items were recovered during one
warranted search and two consent searches of Phelps' home. Magalhaes said he
expects all of the stolen items to be recovered.

He said historical library employees noticed materials missing from state
archives in May. Officials became suspicious of Phelps and discovered items
were missing the next time he requested materials for viewing in the library
reading room.

Magalhaes said the state police were alerted. They obtained a warrant to
search Phelps' Des Moines home and found the library's missing documents, as
well as materials from other organizations.

Phelps faces up to 10 years in prison on the felony theft charge. Kutmus
said he will seek probation and a deferred judgment at the Nov. 16
sentencing.

Assistant Polk County Attorney Steve Foritano said it would be difficult to
assign a dollar value to the stolen items, noting they were "clearly over
$10,000," the minimum threshold for a first-degree theft charge.

Meanwhile, Magalhaes said the state library has installed security cameras,
as well as instituted procedural and physical changes to the reading room. A
special roped-off viewing area has been set aside for special collections,
with new restrictions.


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