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Pair is accused of stealing videos

(ran NS, S editions of B)

Some videotapes in the movie section at the Tarpon Springs Public Library seemed so popular that they were never on the shelf.

But an audit completed last week determined that many tapes weren't checked out. The tapes _ 183 of them valued at $6,400 _ had been pilfered.

When Tarpon Springs officer Brian Wolfle noticed that a list of videotapes for sale was very similar to a list of tapes missing from the library, the discovery led to the arrest Friday of a 47-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy.

Police spokesman Bud Rubio said Frances Radulesco of 124 Hibiscus St., Tarpon Springs, and the boy were charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

Mrs. Radulesco was released Monday from the Pinellas County Jail on her own recognizance. The boy was released into the custody of his father.

"They admitted to stealing 125 tapes altogether," Rubio said. "The woman had been taking them for close a year, and the boy had been doing it about six months. I guess they'd put them in their pockets or something and walk out with them."

Library director Elizabeth O'Brien told police Wednesday that 183 tapes were missing. She gave Wolfle a list of the stolen tapes.

On Friday, Wolfle went into a convenience store on S Pinellas Avenue. He saw, on the counter, a list of videotapes for sale with a telephone number to call. Rubio said the list closely matched the library's list of stolen tapes.

Videotaped movies on each list included Father of the Bride, Soap Dish, City Slickers and Ghostbusters.

Detectives called the telephone number and arranged to buy 10 tapes for $10 each. An 11th tape was to be included free. When the purchase was completed, Mrs. Radulesco and the boy were arrested.

In addition to the 11 tapes detectives obtained, police said they found 66 stolen tapes at Mrs. Radulesco's home. Four others were recovered from a person who bought them without knowing they were stolen.

"We had several videotapes that just simply disappeared each month since February," O'Brien said. "August was the worst. We had 60 taken in August alone."

The library staff has taken precautions to prevent more thefts. O'Brien said she is considering installation of an alarm system that would detect thefts.

"We're one of the last (library) hold-outs in the county without a security system," O'Brien said. "We thought we were kind of isolated from that kind of thing up here, but it's not so.

"It's pretty sick to steal from a library. People are stealing from themselves. We're just not putting any more new videos on the shelf."