news-107240341-ar-0-0.jpg
Police turn page on library thefts

Police turn page on library thefts

An Eagle Point man with an apparent taste for heavy reading has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of nearly 400 books from multiple local libraries.

A search Thursday of Christopher Earl Storrer's residence in the 5000 block of Butte Falls Highway revealed hundreds of stolen library books, many of them vandalized.

Storrer, 24, was lodged in Jackson County Jail on a variety of robbery, theft and criminal mischief charges. He remained in jail Saturday on bail of $23,000.

The extent of Storrer's reading list wasn't detailed in the police report. However, four volumes were identified:

"The Grand Design," a popular-science book co-written by physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow; "The Archaeology of Knowledge" by Michel Foucault, published in 1969; "Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present" by Cynthia Stokes Brown; and "The Open Work," a collection of essays penned by Umberto Eco.

"It doesn't sound like light reading to me," said Ashland Police Sgt. Tighe O'Meara. "I don't know the answer to his motivation, but it's pretty peculiar. I guess the guy is a brainiac and likes books."

Police began investigating theft and vandalism of library books from Southern Oregon University's Hannon Library when three thefts were reported in May. Their primary break, and the one leading to the robbery charge, came on May 25, when Storrer triggered a security alarm as he exited the SOU library.

"A couple of employees told him to come back and one chased him," O'Meara said. "The suspect threatened the employee and the employee wisely, and correctly, backed away."

O'Meara said the third-degree robbery charge was related to that event, where someone steals property, retains it and threatens someone.

The library employee was able to get a good description of the suspect's car and Ashland patrol officer Bon Stuart went to work, piecing the case together, which led to other libraries, including the Eagle Point Branch Library.

Book spines found at Storrer's residence had been damaged in an apparent attempt to remove security tags and dust jackets had been ripped off, damaging covers. Library stamps had been blacked over with a Magic Marker.

"It wasn't a matter of lawfully loaned books and he just kept them," O'Meara said.

Police are still sorting out how many libraries were involved. The district attorney's office will decide when the books will be returned to the libraries, O'Meara said.

"It's an unusual case," O'Meara said. "People don't seem to be into books that much anymore with e-Readers and Kindle electronic devices."

While selling books online is common, it doesn't appear that Storrer was trying to sell the books.

"At first, I was pondering whether he was taking books worth $15 or $20 and putting them on Amazon," O'Meara said. "But it appears he was just accumulating books for personal use. You can't sell them if you are tearing them apart."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.

Share This Story