A Vista woman accused of stealing thousands of books from libraries around San Diego County pleaded guilty to one count of “commercial burglary” in the Vista courthouse on February 20.
An investigation reportedly started last July when Maria Carmen Nater, 45, tried to leave the Carlsbad library with books that had not been checked out. Nater reportedly used a rolling cart that she had brought with her.
Police detective Kerry Weber stated that Nater brought her two seven- and eight-year-old children with her and that her son first tried to leave with items that had not been checked out, but an alarm sounded and library staff intercepted him.
Library workers had previously noticed an unusual loss of certain books — books on cooking, crafts, gardening, and oversized books. “Library staff began paying more attention to suspicious activity,” according to police statements found in court files.
Carlsbad police went to Nater’s home on Lado de Loma Drive in Vista last September and they said up to 1000 books “could be observed in plain view” and Nater “admitted to selling books on Amazon and stated she had multiple library books in her residence,” according to court records. “Maria Carmen Nater was unable to explain how she obtained such a large quantity of library books,” according to Carlsbad police. “Approximately 2000 books” and “numerous DVDs” were seized, according to search-warrant paperwork.
In the plea deal, Nater agreed to refrain from having an online account with eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist and to not purchase nor sell merchandise online during her probation period. Nater has been ordered to pay restitution of $7600, which will be divided among Escondido, Oceanside, Carlsbad, and San Diego County libraries.
Nater could get anywhere from probation to three years’ custody, according to the plea deal read aloud by superior court judge Kimberlee Lagotta. Sentencing is scheduled for April 25. She remains free on $40,000 bond.
Prosecutor Marnie McGee agreed to not oppose reducing the single felony count to a misdemeanor if Nater is able to successfully complete 18 months of probation without offense, pay the restitution, and “attend a parenting class if directed by the probation officer.”