Librarians have known for years how easy it is to steal library books. When we spot those rare early printings of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets or Interview with the Vampire, we know exactly why the discard command in the circulation software is there.
And then it's off to my eBay storefront: stolenfromthelibrarybooksandvideos.
(How they continue to let me do business with a name like that, I don't know. But if I'm ever caught, it's the perfect defense: "Hey, it's the name of my business. They took my registration fee and everything!") Drop by and pick up Criterion dvds like Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie for $5.99 or that Roy Lichtenstein coffee table book for $7.99; such-a-deal!
As for most library thieves, the punishment if caught would be light. No judge would consider harsh punishment in the name of a library. Libraries are an institution for the public good; steal from one and you might receive six months of community service. On the other hand, steal from a store like Best Buy and they might lock you up for five years of making the beast with two hairy backs and compulsory teabag parties.
The myth of the librarian inquistitor is just that, a myth. Jerry Seinfeld might be pursued by an inhuman library detective, but a golem formed from the pulp of masticated catalog cards, combined with spittle and Diet Coke and brought to life, to life, by incantations both arcane and unholy is just a fabrication recited to small children in the black of night to eat away their souls.
So steal that book! Hell, the library wants you to. Libraries haven't received this much positive publicity in years: who'da thunk that libraries have anything that anybody would want to steal?
[note: yes, this is a joke. tell ebay to put their attorneys back in their cages-- did you really think I had a store there?]