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Over $2K in videos stolen from library

People who visit the Luverne Public Library can enjoy free time on the computer, checking out a book for free, or even participating in a free children’s art class—and if they have a library card, they can even check out movies—on DVD and VHS—for free, not to mention the music CDs. All for free.

The problem comes when people don’t bother to return these items so that other residents can enjoy them for free as well.

“This is what I call the bane of my existence when it comes to dealing with this,” Library Assistant Director Kathryn Tomlin said, as she pulled out piles and piles of empty DVD cases.

Tomlin ended up with at least 77 empty DVD cases—movies that people had checked out from the library for free—and had not returned. But this figure is just a recent figure—it doesn’t count in all the movies that have not been returned over the last couple of years.

“It costs us on average about $20 per movie, and we try to keep the current ones and the new releases in, but then people check them out and never bring them back,” Tomlin said. “This is $1,540 of taxpayers’ money right here alone that’s just gone.”

And that’s not even counting the music CDs that disappear—Tomlin said those cost between $18-$20 each, and right now, at least 5 are gone—another $100 in taxpayers’ money down the drain.

And to add insult to injury, many of the movies and CDs get damaged to the point they can’t be used anymore even though they have been returned.

“We had one teenager to actually use a toothbrush and toothpaste on a music CD thinking she could get the scratches off of it,” Library Director Rene Lester said, holding the CD in her hand. “Needless to say, it’s ruined now.”

“These are bought with everybody’s tax dollars, so maybe they think, ‘oh, it’s just the library,’ but everybody ends up paying for these movies,” Lester said.

The library had just received a copy of the new Brad Pitt movie, “Benjamin Button”, in May, but even it is already gone.

“We even had someone to come in here and tell us that they’d moved from Troy, lied to us about their address, and checked out three movies—and we haven’t seen them since,” Tomlin said, “and that was back in December.”

Both Lester and Tomlin have turned in names to the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office and the Luverne Police Department in an effort to either collect the money owed for the movies or at least just to get them back.

“I can’t even tell you how many missing movies I’ve deleted from the computer—those are just gone forever,” Tomlin said. “One of them had been missing for two years.”

The library tries to replace the missing DVDs and music CDs, but that costs more of taxpayers’ money.

“You would think that people would appreciate being able to have free services like we offer here, but I guess if it’s not coming out of their own pocket, they just don’t care,” Lester said.