One for the books: Thief swipes donated novels from inmate book club

Local News

SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – A package thief in Sandy recently took a novel approach when he took several novels. While many porch piracies happen every day, this is one for the books.

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Educator and textbook salesman Elliot Morris shares his love of literature with inmates. As part of the University of Utah’s Prison Education Project, he runs a weekly book club inside the state penitentiary.

“They love it,” Morris told ABC4 News. “They’re starved for conversation and they want to talk about ideas and make connections with each other and with characters and books. You know sometimes it’s just a way to brighten up their day and sometimes it helps kind of change their perception of things.”

The latest plot twist came Monday morning. Morris was out of town when he saw a doorbell camera video of a man on his front porch, loading packages of donated books into an orange bucket then taking off.

“I felt very violated,” Morris said. “If it would have been something I ordered like shoes or kitchenware, I think I’d be like ‘Oh whatever’ but these are things people donated to the readers at the prison…That’s really what ticked me off, like my friends and family and people in the community helped out and this guy just kind of erased that in one fell swoop.”

So what did he get?

“He has Edward Snowden’s memoir. He has some Sherlock Holmes stories and Ian McEwan’s Atonement,” Morris said. “Our theme for the summer is called Literary Secrets so books where secrets are at the core of the story or the characters, kind of the power of secrets.”

Now Morris wants to uncover the secret of this man’s identity so a judge can throw the book at him.
“I want him to be held accountable,” Morris said. “Doesn’t necessarily mean I want to throw him in jail and have him join my book club but I would love a book report. I want to know what he thinks of the books.”

This incident just might change the book club’s reading list. Maybe they’d like to check out Markus Zusak’s number one bestseller “The Book Thief.”

“The Book Thief, that’s a good one,” Morris said with a laugh. Perhaps Crime and Punishment?
“They do actually want to read that,” Morris said. “That’s on one of our lists so that would be very apropos.”

 If you’d like to help give this unfortunate story a positive outcome, you can donate books or money to the Prison Education Project by clicking here.

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