Duncan Jevons, 49, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to four specimen charges of theft and asked for 316 others to be considered, which involved 40,000 books taken over a 30-year period.
Police found 52,000 books, mainly religious and philosophical titles with an estimated worth of pounds 100,000, stacked from floor to ceiling in Jevons's home and barn at Halesworth, Suffolk.
About 12,000 have been identified and returned, with Jevons claiming that 10,000 belonged to him. Records and 2,000 cassettes were also found and they, like the books, had all identifying marks removed from them.
The court was told Jevons was a sad, inadequate, obsessive man who had stolen the books to feed his efforts to impress others with the illusion that he was well-educated.
Judge John Turner told Jevons he had 'a personality like a magpie to steal'. But taking into account his help in identifying the books, his guilty pleas and the fact that he made no money from the thefts, the judge gave him the smallest sentence possible.Reuse content