The day police announced they believed they had identified and arrested the man suspected of stealing a rare, historic book from the Collinsville Historical Museum, someone returned the book to the Collinsville Public Library.
As soon as the Collinsville Police Department posted a picture on social media of the man they believe stole a World War II-era book from the museum, the calls started coming in, including anonymous tips as to the man’s identity, according to Major Rich Wittenauer. The post has since been taken down, as Wittenauer said they believe they have identified the man and they have someone in custody. Names and more specific details were not released.
The theft took place in February, but was only discovered on April 4, Wittenauer said. The book was a very rare volume brought back from overseas by a World War II intelligence officer. While its value has been estimated as $3,000, Wittenauer said that was “on the low end” based on the book’s rarity. The title of the book is currently being withheld, but its value could be as high as $10,000, police said.
Collinsville police later announced the book was dropped off at the library Thursday. Wittenauer said someone brought the book into the library inside a large box and left it, walking out. The book is now being held as evidence at the Collinsville Public Library.
Museum workers discovered the book was missing on April 4, and after searching, they reviewed surveillance videos going backward in time to see the theft take place Feb. 21. The suspect appears to be a man with a large tattoo on his upper back, partially visible above the collar of his shirt.
Wittenauer said the man entered at about 3:10 p.m. and walked to the unlocked glass display case that held the book and several other items, retrieving the book from the bottom shelf. He went directly to it, Wittenauer said, and seemed focused on that item. At the time, a tour was going through the museum, and the staff were with the tour in another room, he said. The man was in the museum for a total of about 40 seconds.
Wittenauer said they are confident they have identified the man in the video and are seeking formal charges from the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office. No arrests have been made yet, but Wittenauer said he hoped to have an answer by Friday.