You may have seen them around the Austin area: “Little Free Libraries” in neighborhoods and outside of homes.While the books are free that doesn't mean theft isn't happening.
Three years ago Matthew Elsass and his wife put up their little free library in their front yard.
“Someone takes a book, you can put a book back in, or you can just put a book in,” he said.
That came to end, when Elsass caught a man on his surveillance camera, emptying the library.
“It's just frustrating. It's just something you're supposed to be doing fun for the neighborhood and kids and adults,” Elsass said.
It's not just the the Elsass family getting hit. It's happening all over this West Austin neighborhood and elsewhere.
“We've had it completely emptied out six times in the past two months,” Jenny Hodgkins, resident, said.
Hodgkins has a seven and a nine-year-old who love to read.
They're donating their books they care very much about so it's very disappointing and disheartening,” she said.
“I filed a police report and they said they can't do much because the books technically are free so you can't steal free books. You can't arrest the person,” an anonymous neighbor said.
“He's found a loophole,” Elsass said.
Neighbors say they have an idea of who he is, but can't take action because of the loophole. They are just hoping the book thief, does not graduate to breaking in to homes.
“If somebody is willing to steal from this you wonder if they have any morals they live by because it's like a moral crime,” anonymous neighbor said.