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Rare books are stolen from LDS Institute

Copies of the Book of Mormon are worth about $20,000 each

University of Utah police Thursday were looking for two rare books stolen from the LDS Institute of Religion on campus.

Two copies of the Book of Mormon, an 1840 Nauvoo edition and an 1841 Liverpool edition, were stolen from the Institute sometime in the past two weeks.

The books have an estimated value of about $20,000 each.

Institute director Allan Gunnerson said the safe that held the books was discovered missing Tuesday. Police estimate it could have been stolen as far back as Oct. 24.

"It's one of two safes. It's one we don't use all the time," Gunnerson said. "It's in a secretary's office. It was in a cabinet."

The secretary who works in that office had been out of town for a couple of weeks. Gunnerson said the institute wasn't exactly sure Thursday of the last time the books were known to have been seen.

Police are now asking the public, pawn brokers in particular, to keep an eye out.

"We would love the public's help on any information they might have," said University of Utah police Sgt. Lynn Rohland.

There were no signs of forced entry into the building. Gunnerson said detectives told him they believed the thief or thieves knew what they were after. The office was not ransacked and no other items were taken, he said.

"However, I don't know if they would have known what was in that safe," he said.

Gunnerson said very few people knew the books were in the safe. He said only a handful of instructors would ever use them for teaching and then return them when they were finished.

There are activities in the institute almost every night, Gunnerson said, and the secretaries' doors are rarely locked. Someone could have wandered in and just happened to come across the safe by chance, he said.

"We just don't know," Gunnerson said.

The books are not in pristine condition, Gunnerson said. They each have library pockets in the back as they were previously available to be checked out.

Each book also has a stamp that says either "Institute of Religion" or "University Institute."

Anyone with information on the books is asked to call police at 585-2677.