BENNINGTON -- A Gage Street woman is accused of stealing valuable, rare books about alchemy from a local antique shop.

Patricia Crosby, 52, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to a felony count of retail theft. She was released on the condition she not to go the Owl's Nest Upholstery and Antique Store on Main Street.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer John F. Behan, on April 15 at 12:57 p.m. he spoke to Jeanne Gauthier, owner of the Owl's Nest, who said Crosby had been in the store earlier looking at a collection of rare books kept in a case. The case has a sign asking that customers not open it, but Crosby had it open. Gauthier was busy with another customer at the time, and since Crosby is a regular she thought nothing of it.

The books fell out of the case, and Gauthier went over to put them back but Crosby said she would take care of it. Gauthier finished with the other customer while the books were put back, but when she went to check them she noticed the "Alchemy 4" book series was missing. She asked Crosby about it, and Crosby responded by saying she does not know what alchemy is and only reads the Bible.

Gauthier said the books are valued at $2,000, as they are rare and nearly irreplaceable.

Behan went to Crosby's home and spoke to her. She said she goes to the Owl's Nest all the time, had been there early, and again said she does not know what alchemy is and only reads the Bible.


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Crosby denied taking any books, and said the only book not returned to the case was one she asked Gauthier to hold for her until Friday.

Behan asked Crosby what he might see on a surveillance tape of the store. Crosby then asked if she would need to be fingerprinted. She continued to deny taking the books, but Behan noted a change in her tone of voice.

On the following day, Behan returned and asked Crosby what she thinks he might have seen on a surveillance tape of the store. Crosby started to cry and said she had the books, which she turned over. She had them wrapped and said she was planning on putting them on the store's steps later in the day.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.