Thieves target 'little free library,' Make-A-Wish wishing well in Bay View

CREATED Jul 31, 2014

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MILWAUKEE -- Who's stealing free books? It's a question one Bay View man is trying to answer. 

Allen Wulk built a"little free library" in front of his house, hoping people would take the books inside and eventually return them for others to enjoy. But that's not the case, thanks to the book thieves.

"They seem to take hardbounds,” Wulk said. “If there are hardbounds in, it'll happen more often."

He said hundreds of books have been stolen in two years.

He said he hasn't called police about the suspects, but he did when someone stole donated money intended for the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Wulk installed a surveillance camera after someone started stealing cash and coins from the wishing well. That same surveillance camera captured three people walking past the library at night. One person has a big white bag stuffed with what Wulk said are dozens of books.

"And then when I get 'em on the video up there,” he said “It shows them just standing there at 12:30 in the morning."

Still, he doesn't plan on closing the library's doors.

"My wife's been doing this, putting "little free library" on the top of the book. So if someone gets them and wants to sell them, if they see this on there, it should be a little warning to them,” adds Wulk.

He's got a message for the thieves:

"I hope they can read! That's what I’d like to see I guess, because they have enough reading to take care of for a while!"

As for the Make-A-Wish wishing well, Wulk said he now collects the quarters, nickels, and dimes every day so they don't get stolen.

Police and schools say they haven't gotten any reports of any other book thefts in the area.