“Book thievery is the one crime of which people do not seem to mind being suspected.” (“Miss Manners Basic Training: The Right Thing to Say,” by Judith Martin, Crown Publishers, 1998, p. 47.)
As the author of “The Book Thief” laments, it is very hard to get law enforcement to care about missing books. Who cares if the books are national treasures, worth more than any single painting in an art museum, the only surviving record of a two-thousand year old culture, or simply a paperback book purchased with public money for the enjoyment of hundreds for the next couple of years? Most law enforcement personnel, from police to prosecutors to judges, even those who are literate and even literary seem to find book theft somewhat more important than the theft of one’s recycling from curbside and somewhat less important than the theft of someone’s front garden pink flamingo. Stolen pink flamingos make the news, but not stolen books, unless there are lots of them and there is someone to blame, usually not the thief. It is one kind of several types of crimes where the victim is deemed more to blame than the thief. (For example, library and book store security system managers often get more of the blame than the thief.)
I’m sorry to have to end my quest for my missing books and this story on an empty note (or shelf), but this is a mostly happy ending. I don’t have my books back, but we do, for the most part, have our sanity back, some of the Constitution, and some, though not all, of the paranoia has receded. That’s not such a bad or sad ending, is it – just a shaggy dog one.