According to the New York Times, William John Scott may have thought he was a master thief a’la National Treasure Nic Cage when he started taking the five finger discount while working part time at the Drew University (NJ) archives.
It may not be as sexy as stealing the Declaration of Independence, but nabbing historical letters can still get you into a whole heap of trouble.
Scott, a freshman defenseman on the 3-0 Rangers lacrosse team (NCAA D3) which was coming off a 11-10 win over St. Lawrence in San Diego, had some free time on his hands lately and decided that throwing against the wall or watching game film wasn’t for him.
Instead he took a self taught course in “Master Thievery 101” and pilfered at least 21 historical letters from the school archives with authors ranging from Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, JFK, and important papers that shed light on the origins of the Methodist church and the Wesley brothers who started the university in 1867. Stealing important letters written by the founders of your school, nobody would notice if those things went missing right?
The university became suspicious, according to an account provided by prosecutors, after an antiques dealer in England alerted officials in its library that he had been approached by someone offering to sell him original letters from the Wesleys. Ten of the letters arrived on March 3, via FedEx, according to the complaint, with two suffering some damage in transit.
Prosecutors said the unprofessional way the valuable documents were shipped did not sit well with the dealer, who then consulted Drew officials, given their expertise and collection of Wesleyana.
After a quick search of its archives, the university estimated that 21 to 23 of its Wesley letters appeared to be missing and contacted the F.B.I. The missing lot included a valuable letter, worth more than $5,000, from John Wesley to a friend and supporter, George Merryweather, dated Dec. 20, 1766.
It’s all fun and games until the FBI gets involved. And he would have got away with it if he had Fed Ex’d the letters in a normal package instead of shoving them into a Stouffers French Bread pizza box. Out in Hollywood, Nic Cage’s agent is reading the story and wondering if there’s a movie script in here somewhere.
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