ELYRIA – The Elyria Public Library was trying to extol the virtues of downloadable books and videos from their collection by displaying a collection of electronics on which to view them. Instead, the display proved too much for some locals, who are accused of stealing three tablets from the display.
Fredrick Algood, 22, was charged with theft and vandalism around 2:30 p.m. Thursday as he was walking at the intersection of Middle Avenue and 3rd Street.
Lavell Andrews, 22, was charged with breaking and entering, theft and vandalism around 2 p.m. Thursday at the police station in Elyria.
Around 10 p.m. March 13, police arrived at the Elyria Public Library on 320 Washington Ave. after a caller reported that someone was trying to break in through a window.
The suspect was gone by the time police arrived but they found a lawn chair sitting below a partially open window on the north side of the building, according to Elyria Police Capt. Chris Costantino. The screen in front of the window was ripped open, Costantino said.
Police weren’t able to find the suspect that night, but they did get a clear surveillance photo of the break-in attempt and started an investigation, Costantino said.
Two weeks later, another incident at the library led police to their suspect.
On Wednesday, an employee at the library noticed two Samsung Galaxy tablets and a Kindle missing from a table. He reviewed surveillance videos from the day before and saw a man – later identified as Algood – walk to a table of computer tablets and Kindles, cut the cord that secured one of the tablets to the wall and take it with him, according to Costantino.
The surveillance footage showed Andrews joining Algood at the table wearing a green coat and a maroon sweatshirt – clothes that police recognized from surveillance of the attempted break-in on March 13, Costantino said.
Police brought Andrews into the police station for questioning and charged him with the break-in, vandalism and theft on Thursday.
Andrews and Algood both were taken to Lorain County Jail, where they were being held Friday. Algood was being held on a $5,000 bond until his court date at 1 p.m. on Monday at Elyria Municipal Court. Andrews is being held on a $10,000 bond.
For a library strapped for funds, the loss – which amounts to a few hundred dollars – is not easily replaceable.
“We’re out of the money,” Director of Elyria Public Library System Lyn Crouse said.
She said the library just bought the tablets and Kindle a month ago as a way to give the public a sort of “technology petting zoo” where people can test out technology before they buy it. The idea comes from libraries in surrounding cities which have bought similar items, but they have not reported similar problems with theft, Crouse said.
Along with faucets that were stolen from the library bathroom a month ago, the West River Road branch of the library was broken into last year and a wide screen television was taken, Crouse said.
“It’s a shame because we do this for the patrons,” Crouse said, adding that the library will not be replacing the tablets stolen in Tuesday’s theft. “It’s just disheartening to me.”