The thieves were organized and practiced, but something just didn’t seem right to employees at the George Mason University Bookstore. Ultimately, the workers’ vigilance led to the arrest of two people suspected of stealing expensive textbooks from the store and selling them for drug money, GMU student newspaper the Broadside reported.
Sandra Reid, 43, and Brian Boyd, 33, were arrested at GMU in late January and face charges ranging from grand larceny to possession of cocaine. “It looks like they were doing it for drugs, selling textbooks and using the money for crack,” Detective Supervisor David Ganley told the Broadside, noting that a crack pipe with trace amounts of cocaine was found in the suspects’ car, along with $2,300 worth of stolen textbooks.
The investigation began Jan. 15, when bookstore employees observed some customers who seemed out of place. “It was the way they acted,” John Howard, assistant general manager at the bookstore, told the Broadside. “They lurked.”
Bookstore general manager Barbara Headley confronted one of the customers, who appeared to be putting books into his backpack. He dropped the books and ran. Employees called the campus police. Investigators obtained surveillance video and photos and determined they were dealing with not one but three individuals, and the suspects were not students stealing textbooks for class.
“It was organized and it wasn’t their first time,” Ganley told the Broadside. “It was almost choreographed. The first suspect, Boyd, came in. They didn’t walk in together. He stacked some books on a cap and then the second suspect, Reid, came in. Boyd pointed to where the books were, and Reid put them in her bag. Boyd left before Reid did, then he came back and distracted the attendant while Reid slipped out the door.”
Four days later, the thieves returned and repeated their act but were followed covertly by store manager Headley. She supplied police with accurate descriptions of the thieves and their behavior. They got away that day but an alert police officer later spotted the suspects’ vehicle parked in the same lot they’d previously used. Officers went to the bookstore and found the vehicle. Boyd and Reid were arrested.
Investigators are still trying to identify the third suspect.