Library patron loses privileges for stealing items

California man takes books, but not booked

Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2002

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) -- A man lost his library privileges for three years after admitting he stole more than 3,000 books and videotapes.

As a condition of his probation, 85-year-old Ernest Heyneman is not allowed to own a library card or go to any library, said Ventura County deputy district attorney Audry Rohn. Authorities also have the right to search him and his home for stolen property.

''Obviously, he has some kind of compulsion, and he is unable to stop himself from stealing books,'' she said.

Prosecutors didn't seek prison time for Heyneman in light of his age, his failing health and his lack of a criminal record, Rohn said.

Heyneman pleaded no contest more than a month ago to one count of felony commercial burglary.

In December, sheriff's deputies raided his hilltop ranch home and found an estimated $26,000 worth of material from the Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley libraries.

The retired movie studio employee did not speak during his sentencing in Superior Court but his wife, Emma, apologized on his behalf.

''My husband is very sorry, and it is showing in his health because he feels he has let his family down,'' she said.

''This is the first time anything like this has happened. He always has been an upstanding citizen, and has taught his children the same.''

Library officials described Heyneman as a devoted patron who spent hours at the library every week culling the stacks for information on health and fitness, music and classic television shows.

The 24 boxes of books, audiotapes, videotapes and compact discs discovered at his home carried everything from medical books to the video ''Milton Berle's Low Impact Fitness for People Over 50.''

The materials will be returned, Rohn said.

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