YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :
In a sign of the times, brazen thieves sawed-off and absconded with Woodland Public Library’s original (1905) brass handrail, during the night of January 21. This theft was discovered by initial Library patrons arriving the next morning and reported to Library staff, who alerted police.
Woodland Public Library is the oldest operating Carnegie Library in California.
Gleaming brass in two layers about a quarter-inch thick is revealed at the base of this nine-foot long handrail’s three support columns, which these thieves set upon with some form of saw(s) to dislodge them from their anchoring fixtures along the library’s front steps.
Brass is a soft, relatively valuable metal (alloy), fairly susceptible to such attack.
This historic library handrail survived the Great Depression, but not the Great Recession.
___ Police Dispatched To Scene ___
Within an hour of the opening of the library on January 22, Woodland Police Department dispatched an officer to review the crime scene and evaluate some response.
This police officer immediately contacted local recyclers and checked their brass scrap containers (to no avail), leaving with these recyclers police contact information associated with an alert regarding the handrail.
This police officer then reported receiving an email from the Woodland Public Library’s Director, Greta Galindo, “stating that the hand rail replacement will cost approximately $1,500 dollars[,]” concluding his report with the note that: “There are no known suspects and no investigative leads.”
Later discussions with library staff provided a gloomy picture, with the original handrail potentially being replaced with one which possesses no practical likelihood of theft.
“The next one [if valuable] would be stolen as well,” expressed one depressed staff member; adding, “I suppose it’s just the times we’re living in.”
Separating Woodland Public Library from its original brass handrail would seem an egregious, aesthetic denigration of this historic facility.
The police “crime and incident form” associated with theft of the handrail describes the code violation as: “Grand Theft.”
___ Handrail Suddenly Recovered ___
About 10:30 PM on the night of February 1, a Woodland Police Department report indicates that contact was received from Yolo County Sheriff’s detectives, who, “told me [they] had recovered the brass railings recently stolen from the City of Woodland’s public library.”
“[These detectives] met with me at the station to turn over the railings,” indicates this police report.
According to this report: “[The detectives] could not give me details as to the suspect due to an ongoing investigation. But the railing seemed to be intact, with the supports unscrewed for easier transportation.
“I took possession of the railing and placed them in the sallyport and booked them into evidence at the station,” concludes this police report.
___ Handrail To Be Re-Installed ___
An interview with library director, Greta Galindo, reveals that the original brass handrail will soon be repaired and re-installed, using some structural techniques (such as rebar reinforcement) which hopefully will resist further criminal mischief.
“We’ll slow’em down next time,” if someone attempts theft of this handrail, expresses Galindo.
Woodland Public Library’s Board of Trustees will also consider overall library security issues, focusing on the handrail, during its next regular meeting on February 19.
[ Editorial Note: On February 18, 2014, the library’s brass handrail was secured by city maintenance staff and re-installed, with some security features. Woodland Police Department evidence stickers remain attached to the handrail. ]