June 06, 2012

Diversion offered for historic book and map thefts

Two French men have been offered police diversion after they had been charged with stealing library books and maps while helping remove them from an earthquake damaged building.

Ilane Elie Benzara, and Guillaume Ferdinand Pringault, both 22, were charged with theft by a person in a special relationship, and shoplifting.

At Christchurch District Court at Nga Hau e Wha marae the police allege that between March 17 and March 20 they were working for a contractor who was employed to remove books from the library, and they took five books and two historical maps.

They left the books in their vehicle with the window down, and the books and maps sustained severe water damage. They had attempted to hide the identification of the books by removing the identifying features.

Both men told police they took them home to read intending to bring them back.

Reparation is sought for $13,925 for the damage.

The damaged items were L’Afrique en plusieurs carter nouvelle worth $9767, a Book of Common Prayer worth $3183, a map of ancient England, value unknown, Moses and Aaren 4th edition, value unknown, Statuyten vande nonnen chartriosinnen from 1690, value unknown, Kearsleys Peerage, worth $154, and a map of Lincolnshire, worth $821.

Judge Emma Smith remanded them both to stay in Queenstown where the diversion interview will take place, and to re-appear in Christchurch on July 16.

Diversion is sometimes granted to first offenders on less serious charges. It usually involves a payment and apology, sometimes community service, and allows the offenders to avoid having a criminal conviction on their record.