A band of thieves repeatedly hit the St. Cloud State University campus bookstore in a recent 12-day stretch, making off with upper-priced texts valued at more than $15,000, authorities said Wednesday.
None among the trio has been caught, and police are hoping the release to the public of photos from video surveillance taken inside the Husky Bookstore will lead them to the perpetrators.
The thefts from the business on the first floor of Centennial Hall occurred during the day from Feb. 5 to Feb. 17, with the suspects appearing to focus on texts in the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, business law and other science-related fields, police said.
Quite simply, police added, the men put the texts in book bags and walked out of the privately operated bookstore without paying. The St. Cloud State store is not equipped with an anti-theft scanner at the entrance, a walk-through sensor that some retailers employ.
Employees checked inventory logs and surveillance video to stitch together the conspiracy. The store is operated by Follett Higher Education Group of suburban Chicago.
“Hopefully, working with authorities, we can nab the folks who did this,” said Elio DiStaola, director of campus relations for Follett, which operates bookstores on roughly 940 campuses nationwide.
DiStaola said he suspects that science books were favored by the thieves because they tend to be pricier than texts for other courses, making them more valuable for resale online.
While acknowledging that theft is part of “the life of a retailer,” campus bookstores tend to see less of that crime than retail as a whole because “it’s a controlled environment, and we know who the bulk of our customers are.”
Anyone with information about the St. Cloud thefts is urged to contact police at 1-320-251-1200 or Tri-County Crime Stoppers at 1-320-255-1301,1-800-255-1301, or at www.tricountycrimestoppers.org.