Electronics: To Catch a Thief

Desperate to reduce book thefts, the nation's 60,000 libraries have tried everything from shelving their books behind iron fences to putting in ceiling mirrors to spot browsers stuffing books into clothing or briefcases. Nothing seems to work: the Library Journal estimated not long ago that thieves take anywhere from 200 to 500 books a year from the average library, and library officials glumly admit that book thefts now cost them an estimated total of $25 million a year.

A Metal Insert. The answer to the librarians' plight may lie in an electronic device demonstrated last week in Flint, Mich. Playing...

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