Book swap wagon with children’s books stolen in Bluff Park, organizer says

A wagon containing about 275 books for children and adults, magazines and some DVDs meant for book swapping in the community was stolen from outside a Bluff Park home Tuesday night, according to the book swap organizer.

The wagon of the Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap at 3040 E. First St. was taken around 11:30 p.m., according to surveillance footage, said Justin Rudd, who organizes the swap. The book swap has been running for almost nine years. Dozens of people frequent the book swap location every day, some borrow books or just review the selections.

“They took something that belongs to our community,” Rudd said.

The suspect entered his property where he stores the wagon and cut a lock to take it, he said. Surveillance footage showed a man dumping more than 200 of the books onto Rudd’s carport and taking about 50 books still inside the wagon, according to Rudd. A painter at a nearby house found books in his yard and Rudd later retrieved them, he said. He estimates about $300 worth of like-new books were taken.

“It’s just not cool,” he said. “If a person really, really needs a red wagon, I will do my best to try to help them get one.”

Long Beach police said officers responded to the burglary the next day, but Rudd did not want to press charges. In 2014, Rudd had a bin from the community book swap stolen.

Rudd said he’s already raised enough money and has ordered a new wagon, lock and tracking device. In the meantime, he’s left a few stacks of books at the swap location.

“We’ll always have books out there,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the wagon was stolen in Bluff Park, not Belmont Shore. 

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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