While library cards aren’t as complex to acquire as a passport or a new birth certificate, there are enough measures in place to ensure an applicant is a resident of that specific town (and that the applicant in question does in fact exist). Stealing from a library is nothing new, but a St. Paul, Minnesota woman went to the extent of creating 24 children and registering them for library cards so that she could have access to the library’s DVD and video game collection.
Instead of an old-woman-who-lived-in-a-shoe-type scenario, where the defendant had so many kids that she didn’t know what to do, it turns out that none of this woman’s 24 children were real. Instead, the woman created fake children so that she could make her way through the public library branches in the city, renting out a number of items with no intention of ever returning them. According to a complaint filed December 4, the woman’s haul included 50 video games, 41 DVD’s and 21 different books.
The defendant, 23-year-old Nhia Vue, has been charged with one count of theft by the Ramsey County District Court. It should be noted that Minnesota is very strict on overdue library items, charging guilty parties with a petty misdemeanor instead of just inflicting a fine, like many states. Still, Vue’s case was obviously much more than forgetting to return the items. The charges state that she pawned off 46 of the video games and 22 DVD’s in just under a month. Some of the recovered items showed signs of tampering and included the library’s name being blackened out and labels peeled off. The total value of the items was well over $1,400.
Even though Vue’s actions tend to suggest that she knew what she was doing was wrong, her statements to authorities were less damning of herself. She first admitted that the 24 children she claimed to have in fact did not exist and were entirely made up. To offset this, Vue claimed that she is disabled and needed the money for food and some spending cash. She also claimed that her boyfriend and his cousin duped her by telling her that items taken from the library, since it was public, would just have the money due taken out of annual taxes, if they weren’t returned. In that sense, Vue didn’t look at her actions as stealing, merely a payday loan until tax time.
What’s unclear is how Vue was able to create an alias for that many fake library cards. She was not listed as the parent on all of them, but a good enough number that irregular activity was detected in the library computer system. In Minnesota, a child can get a library card if they:
- Are accompanied by a parent who meets the adult identification requirements
- Return a postcard mailed to them by the library
- Get a library card as part of a school class visit
- Present a valid State underage ID
Perhaps Vue used one or all of these methods, but it appears she may have had practice. Vue allegedly also stole over $1,600 from the Anoka County Library System.