Dead and finals weeks are notoriously the worst weeks of the quarter. On Western’s campus, and especially in the library, you’ll see zombies that look like students—they have backpacks and iPods, but they lack the spark of life you normally see in the student body. Despite the utter misery that is caused by the need to catch up on a full quarter of studying, watch out: there is one thing that will make your dead and finals weeks undeniably worse…a stolen textbook.

I know, this may sound like less of a loss than your wallet or laptop, but from personal experience, I can just go ahead and tell you getting a textbook stolen is worse than you might think.

Last year, during dead week, I was studying madly the night before my Bio 204 Lab Practical Exam. Of course I was desperately behind, and I was busy cramming as much knowledge into my feeble brain as possible. I was lucky enough to secure a group study room without having to kill anyone for it, so when my friend called to have me come meet her in the sky bridge, I left my backpack and books strewn around so I could reserve the precious commodity.

When we both returned, I noticed immediately that something very vital was missing: my biology book. Everything I had left, including my wallet, had stayed exactly where it had belonged, but that very expensive and very vital book had gone missing. Of course, no books were on reserve and my friend needed her book to cram on her planned all-nighter. Luckily it was only 4:45 so I had the chance to go run and purchase a new book from the AS Bookstore.

$130 later, I make the fervent promise to learn more about how to avoid the dreaded plague of book thievery.
Lara Mann, the General Manager of the AS Bookstore, was kind enough to help give me some very valuable pointers to avoid having your textbooks stolen:

“When you first purchase your books, pick an arbitrary page,” Mann advised. “Write your name along the very inside margin of the page, and do so in every book you buy. That way, if the book is stolen, it is much easier to find when the book comes in for buyback.”

The Bookstore makes every effort to recover stolen books and prosecute the thieves, but it is a very difficult thing to do. “First of all, always report your book as stolen,” Mann said. “Report it to us, report it to the campus police, even report it to the College Store, because we work with them when we know that books are being stolen. When you come in and report the book, we will ask you if your name is in it, or if you’ve highlighted in it. If you can only tell us you’ve highlighted in yellow marker, it really doesn’t do much.”

Also, “the number one thing is to never leave your books anywhere,” said Mann, “even to just go to the bathroom.” Though it may seem obnoxious to pack up your books and bring them with you to the bathroom, it takes only a moment for someone to casually snatch up your book. “People in college towns are aware that textbooks are valuable,” Mann warned.

Basically, you just need to be aware that there are sneaky people out there that are looking to snatch up your books. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked through the VU and seen a backpack sitting open by a chair,” Mann said. “It is so easy for someone to walk by and grab something out of your backpack without you even noticing it.”

The common hotspots for books to be stolen are the library, and, surprisingly, your car. “People break into cars all the time,” Mann said, “they usually take CDs, but if your textbooks are in plain sight you’ll have those stolen as well…Selling back books can be a pretty lucrative business”

Books are also commonly stolen in the beginning of quarters, when the prospect of returning books for full price is a tempting offer. “Never leave your receipt in your book,” Mann advised.

Though it may make sense to keep the receipt in the book so it is easy to find if you have to return it, it will also be easy to find for someone who has stolen your book. “Everyone asks for a receipt for a refund,” Mann said.

Another thing you can do while purchasing books is pay with a credit card, because when you receive your refund it will be automatically applied directly to the same card.

So be cautious and careful, even when you are in your most delirious state these next two weeks. Don’t let some petty thief rob you of a good grade in your class and some much-needed cash from buybacks.