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Charges: Student burglarized UW-River Falls library

Garrett K. DeBuse

A UW-River Falls student faces felony charges after allegedly stealing more than $18,000 worth of materials from the university's library.

The Pierce County District Attorney on Monday, April 17, charged 21-year-old Garrett K. DeBuse with burglary and theft of library materials. The River Falls resident made his initial court appearance the same day and was released on a $10,000 signature bond.

A preliminary hearing was set for May 23.

According to a criminal complaint:

Campus police took a report April 4 from UW-River Falls Chalmer Davee Library Director Valerie Malzacher, who said staff noticed a wooden book cart and two recycling containers missing from the circulation desk area. Other nearby items also appeared to have been disturbed.

An inventory of missing items from the library was later turned over to police, including:

• 52 CDs ($5,720)

• A record turntable ($110)

• 88 DVDs ($9,680)

• 17 books on tape ($1,870)

• Wooden book cart ($889)

The missing items totaled $18,309, according to university officials.

One library worker reported seeing a trash can propping open a door between the circulation area and the library's audio-visual room, which she said was "peculiar" since the door is always closed and locked.

Library officials also reported that a box of English tea and several packets of Earl Grey tea were also missing from a drawer in the library's break room. Staff suspected the suspect might have been hiding inside the building until it was empty.

Officers also learned a UWRF Surplus Sales employee had witnessed a suspicious man pushing a book cart containing two recycling bins near the library at 5:20 a.m. April 3. The employee followed the man as he crossed East Cascade Avenue, continued pushing the cart down Fourth Street and onto Spring Street, where the man eventually stopped at a car in an alley.

The employee told police he confronted the man about the library cart and was told, "I borrowed the cart from my buddy but the rest of the crap is mine." The employee let the man know he'd seen him and then left.

On April 11, campus police were called to the library for a man hiding behind a couch. Officers found the man and identified him as DeBuse, who is listed as a student on the university's website. The officer reported DeBuse fit the description of the cart-pushing man from the previous week.

Campus police later provided the surplus employee with a photo lineup, which included DeBuse's image. The employee said the image of DeBuse was most likely the man he witnessed with the cart.

Police executed a search warrant on April 14 at DeBuse's 205 W. Cascade Ave. apartment, along with a search of his car.

Officers found two men inside, one of whom was DeBuse. A search of his room turned up a DVD case of the Disney-Pixar film "Brave" that contained a UWRF library barcode. Miscellaneous English tea and Earl Grey tea packets were also found in DeBuse's room, along with a pill bottle bearing DeBuse's name with a UWRF library barcode affixed to it.

Library staff later reported the label had been from a book called "The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew," which had been kept in the seating area of the library where DeBuse had been found hiding on April 11.

A blue recycling container was found in a utility room at the apartment; DeBuse's roommate reported that was the first time he'd noticed it there.

Police also reported finding marijuana-related paraphernalia in the apartment.

DeBuse refused to discuss the library incident with police and demanded a lawyer.

University Police Chief Karl Fleury said Tuesday that officers are "still looking for more items" missing from the library and that the case remains under investigation.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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