Thursday, February 7, 2008

Stopped, Thieves

Rare books
Originally uploaded by bmb
If you read only one federal court appellate decision this month (yeah, I know, you forgot your new year resolution to read two a week, didn't you?) make it this one.

It tells the fascinating story of four college students who came up with the caper of a lifetime - to steal a truckload of rare books from the Special Collections Room at Transylvania University in Kentucky. Alternatingly hilarious and frightening (fortunately the brave librarian they attacked -- and the equally heroic one who confronted them -- were not badly hurt) the story has a happy ending. The main point for the appeals court to decide was: Can the books they dropped OUTSIDE the Special Collections Room but INSIDE the Library be considered stolen when calculating the value of stolen items (and therefore, the length of their sentences)? The judges say: Yep.

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