Neighbors refill bookshelves after thieves target ‘little free library’

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SAN DIEGO -- A thief or thieves have been stealing books from children in Imperial Beach by clearing the shelves of a "little free library."

Corzette Morstein created Sterling's Little Free Library on Connecticut Street about three years ago. The idea is to bring the community together while helping children learn and grow.

“Every child should have a book and many parents can’t afford books. So it’s supposed to be, take a book leave a book, but we don’t care if you leave a book or not if you really need a book,” Morstein said.

Morstein said recently on a couple of occasions, someone took more than just one or two books. Instead, they swiped just about all of them.

“It hurts. I mean you’re trying to do something good for the community,” Morstein said. “If it’s somebody who really needs the books for their children, knock on my door, I’ll give you all the books that you want. But to take them -- taking them robs other children of the experience."

Frustrated and disappointed, she told neighbors in a Facebook post what happened and the responses took her by surprise.

“People started sending messages saying, 'I have books, you can have books' and I would come home and there would be whole bags of books in front of my house,” Morstein said.

Morstein has received so many books that not all of them will fit on the shelves --a story that teaches us how small kind gestures can turn a negative experience into a positive one.

“Somebody asked me, 'what are you doing to do if they do it again?' and I said, 'I’m not going to do anything, but the neighborhood will,'” Morstein said.

Morstein said she now knows if someone steals again she will not have to replace all the books by herself; however, if someone continues to steal, she may have to put up a camera.

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