Bookstore Fraud

Nicole DeJesus

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For the first time since 2004, the Mesa bookstore was the victim of two major acts of theft.

Mesa bookstore employee Kenneth King was seen entering, stealing, and re-selling books to Mesa students at around noon on Sept. 9, according to campus police reports. A spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department said King was charged with one count of commercial burglary and his court date is pending with the city attorney.

Over the past three years the Mesa Bookstore has encountered the most “unusual” of crimes, says Lt. Jack Doherty of the Mesa police department. Two of them happened this semester.

The “ring leader” of this operation, according to Doherty, was a male student worker hired by Mesa to monitor the front entrance of the bookstore. His duty was to prevent theft. In reality, he was making it known to students that he could get them books for cheap. He was not acting alone. There were two bookstore employees on the inside that were assisting in the removal of the books he needed and were receiving cuts of his profit in return.

“When internal theft occurs it’s usually by hourly employees, not the contracted ones,” Doherty said.

All employees involved were terminated and forwarded to the San Diego Police Department. Following further investigation two people were arrested and a warrant was issued for the arrest of the third person involved. The names of the suspects have not yet been released to the press.

Not long after, on Sept. 13, another bookstore employee credited his personal credit card in the amount of $5,127.45. According to the SDPD, this case is still under investigation.

SDCCD Bookstore Manager Nancy Wichmann said, this is not an every day occurrence. She said when it does happen, “we always prosecute” to prevent future theft.

Three years ago two men not affiliated with Mesa fled the bookstore with arms full of expensive text books. A bookstore employee saw the men and the van they fled in.

After Mesa police were alerted they headed directly to KB Books on Linda Vista Road and Mesa College Drive. KB confirmed men in the van had been by that day to sell a number of books and turned quite the profit.

A positive identification could not be made and suspects were never prosecuted.

Doherty and his department have daily tactics in place to prevent looting of the bookstore.

“It’s always shocking when someone you trust steals from you,” Wichmann said.

A couple years ago at City College an employee was closing the store alone and stole tens of thousands of dollars from the bookstore safe, leaving a note of admission that mocked management.

“We need to continue to make sure we’re aware of what’s going on and protect our stores assets,” Wichmann said.

In the first two cases of employee theft, it was Mesa student workers at fault. Wichmann said they do have a screening process for hiring but changes, of which can not be disclosed, are being made to prevent inside theft.

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