Kleptomania is a morbid impulse to steal; a pathological mental illness that
is considered “senseless”stealing in that the kleptomaniac does
not take objects for immediate use or for their monetary value and such articles
are often returned surreptitiously, given to others, or hidden away.
Characteristically, the stealing follows a failure to resist the impulse to take
them and such actions produce a sense of relief along with a feeling of guilt for
having committed the deed; and it is usually done by those who are financially able
to pay for the things taken and who often do not have any use for the stolen item
Kleptomania is often expressed as shoplifting, but it should be noted that
most instances of shoplifting are thefts for profit or perceived need. The kleptomaniac
disorder is more common in women than in men; it is sometimes associated with depression,
and a stealing episode is often precipitated by stress. It tends to be chronic in
nature and there are few reports of successful treatment.
Campbell, Robert Jean. Psychiatric Dictionary, 7th Ed.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Stolen Art in France Ended Up in Canal
Police held woman whose son looted museums for years
In a case unprecedented even in the shadowy underworld of art theft, the French
police arrested a French woman who admitted destroying or throwing into a canal
an estimated $1.4 billion worth of painting and art objects that her son had stolen
from dozens of museums in France and five neighboring countries (Switzerland, Belgium,
Austria, Holland, and Germany) over a period of eight years.
The woman’s thirty-one year old son, Stephane Breitwieser, made no effort to
sell the 60 paintings and 112 art objects that he admitted stealing.
He was considered “an eccentric kleptomaniac who loved 17th and 18th century
art” and he kept his stolen art works in a bedroom at his mother’s house
in Mulhouse, in eastern France.
He was arrested while trying to steal a bugle from another museum in Lucerne, Switzerland;
at which time his mother immediately decided to get rid of the incriminating evidence
by shredding the paintings and throwing them into the trash and dumping the other
solid-art objects into a local canal.
She was trying to make sure that there was no evidence of the thefts left in her
Suspected French Art Thief Also Stole from Two Danish Museums
An international theft suspect who has admitted stealing 239 art treasures from European museums stole six items from two museums in the Danish capital, an Interpol
spokesman said Friday. The suspect, Stephane Breitwieser, was in Copenhagen in November, 1999, Palle Biehl of Denmark’s Interpol office said.
French police have recovered four of the six stolen objects and Denmark has asked for them to be returned, Biehl said, declining to name the museums or identify the
stolen art. The Berlingske Tidende newspaper reported that renaissance jewelry was stolen from the Danish Museum of Decorative Art and music instruments and books were stolen
from the Museum of Musical Instruments. Breitwieser, who allegedly staged more than 170 thefts in museums and galleries across western Europe, was arrested in Switzerland on an international warrant from
French authorities. The stolen objects ranged from a 17th-century violin to statues, silver, and dishes. Most of the thefts took place in France and Switzerland.
I enjoy art, suspect told prosecutors
“I enjoy art, I love such works of art, I collected them and kept them at home”, said the man who had been classified as a cleptomaniac.
Based primarily on information from Articles seen in the International Herald Tribune, May 17 and May 23, 2002.
Bibliokleptomania, a Hobby Out of Control
With the development of bibliomania, “the friendly, warming flame of a hobby becomes a devastating, raging wildfire, a tempsst of loosened and vehement passions,”
the writer Max Sander wrote in a 1943 essay for professional criminologists. He characterized bibliomaniacs as people who suffer from a “pathological, irresistible
mental compulsion, ” an inexplicable urging “which has produced more than one crime interesting enough to be remembered. ”
Gladstone, Missouri, man was accused of stealing dozens of books from the Mid-Continent Library branch library and selling them on eBay.
Some of the worlds’ rarest and most precious books have been stolen in what could prove to be Europe’s most catastrophic literary theft since World War II.
A court at Konigstein, Germany, has ordered the confiscation of 13 rare books from a local auction house after a tip to police.
The books almost certainly come from the Jagiellonian Library in Cracow, Poland.
They add up to only a fraction of what appears to be missing from the ancient books and manuscripts of the country’s most famous library, founded in 1364 to serve
the city’s university. They included a copy of the early printed version of Ptolemy’s Cosmographia, the father of all atlases, dated 1482.
Ironically, some of the missing treasures may be German. At the end of World War II, the Prussian State Library sent many collections out of Berlin to be sheltered in Silesia.
From there the Poles secretly took them to Cracow and lodged them in the Jagiellonian collections. Their presence was admitted in 1977.
Two years ago, the Polish government considered returning them to Germany. Among the papers which may also have been stolen are the manuscript of Martin Luther’s
translation of the Old Testament, one of the first texts of the epic Nibelungenlied and scores by Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.
More Million-Dollar Books Stolen from Library
Thieves struck again at St Petersburg’s Russian National Library, stealing four tomes worth over one million dollars. St Petersburg police announced that four books from
the 19th century series Birds of America were missing. More than 90 ancient Tibetan, Mongolian, and Chinese texts, worth an estimated $700 million, were also stolen.
That theft was discovered only three days after 18 rare books were returned to the library on December 8, 1994. Officials finally realized that the Birds of America
books were missing all the pages of the richly illustrated texts and only the covers remained of the original books. Sources have estimated the stolen books’ value on the black market at over
one million dollars.
Man Has Library of Stolen Books in His Caravan
Minnesota bookworm built up a personal library in his caravan of hundreds of stolen books. The 800 volumes were stolen over the period of a year from Minnesota libraries.
The man sometimes stole more than one copy of a book. He went to the trouble of using different aliases to take out every copy of an aquarium book at three Dakota County libraries.
Police believe that the man sometimes looked in library rubbish bins to find discarded documents with names and addresses he could use as aliases. The scheme unravelled when other library members began to get fine notices for late
books which they had never borrowed. In Simi Valley, California, another man lost his library privileges for three years after admitting he had stolen more than 3,000 books and videotapes.
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