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Oakland library investigating multimillion-dollar theft of rare collection

OAKLAND, Pa. — The Carnegie Library is trying to find hundreds of missing rare books.

Police have suspects, but are trying to track down the invaluable items before they are gone forever.

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The Oliver Room on the third floor has been closed to the public entirely since last spring when the theft was discovered.

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Now there's an update to the case that has stunned library officials and students who spend a lot of time there.


Students in Oakland couldn't believe the sheer magnitude of the theft: more than 300 one-of-a-kind works from the Carnegie Library, which they have always thought of as secure.

According to library officials, investigators with the district attorney's office have identified the culprit or culprits behind the theft of hundreds of rare books and maps, some dating back to the 1500s.

A daunting challenge remains: finding all those works, which could be anywhere.

The Oliver Room was always under lock and key and could only be visited by appointment.

It was also always under camera surveillance, according to library officials.

Some of the books included first editions and entire collections from the 17 and 1800s, like William Alexander's "Costume of China," William Russell's "The History of America," and Isaac Candler's "Summary View of America."

Library spokesperson Suzanne Thinnes told Channel 11 the theft is a great loss to the Pittsburgh community.

"Our goal is to recover those stolen items. As of now, suspects have been identified. The staff member responsible for for the collection is no longer employed by the library," Thinnes said in a statement.

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Area booksellers locally and across the country have been notified to be on the lookout for the rare books.