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Pa. librarian helps apprehend intruder

December 22, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A librarian installing a surveillance camera in an effort to solve a series of thefts at the Coyle Free Library instead found herself confronting an intruder who entered the building Thursday night, according to Chambersburg Borough Police.

"She is quite our heroine right now," Franklin County Library System Executive Director Bernice Crouse said of Denice Bigham, 27.

Bigham said she confronted Justin Kling when he entered the library about 15 minutes after its 8 p.m. closing time.

Crouse said the library lost about $300 in the week prior to Kling's arrest.

Kling, 18, of 137 W. King St., was charged with four counts each of burglary and theft in connection with several thefts of cash from a circulation desk between Dec. 8 and Thursday night.

"I was sitting on the floor behind the reference desk when he came in," Bigham said Tuesday. She said the front doors of the library remain unlocked at night so people can put books in a night deposit on a secured interior door.

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To the left of the front door is a door to a computer lab. Police said the intruder used a key to unlock that door and enter the library.

Bigham was setting up a small webcam connected to a laptop computer with motion detection software to try and catch the person who was taking the money.

"I think at first I scared him more than he scared me," Bigham said. Kling told her he had found the keys and had let himself into the library to return them, she said.

When she asked for identification, "he even handed over his wallet to me," she said. As Bigham was warming up the copying machine to copy his driver's license, she called police.

She described the man as cooperative and said he waited for police to arrive.

"I'm just glad he wasn't aggressive or didn't have a weapon," Crouse said.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Kling told police he reached through the night deposit slot to unlock the interior door on Dec. 8 and found the keys. The affidavit alleged that Kling told police he took about $115 that night and returned the next night and stole more than $200.

Police said the intruder only got $2 on Dec. 11. Bigham said by that point, the library was not leaving much cash in the circulation desk.

Kling, who was still in Franklin County Prison on Tuesday afternoon, was scheduled for mandatory arraignment in county court on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

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