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Air conditioning unit stolen from Wilson’s Book World

Bill DeYoung



Michelle Jenquin bought Wilson's Book World from her father, Jeff Morris, who is an expert on rare and antiquarian books. “My father was very vested in this,” she says. “I couldn’t let him down, being the only child.” Photo by Bill DeYoung.

Sometime between 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday, thieves made off with the outdoor component of the Trane air-conditioning unit that cooled Wilson’s Book World, 535 16th Street N.

They unbolted the rectangular, residential-sized metal box from its cement slab, cut the electrical wires and the blowing tubes – the machine was running at the time – and vamoosed.

“Who steals an AC unit?” asked a dumbfounded Michelle Jenquin, the store’s owner.

She’d noticed something was amiss when she pulled into the used booksellers’ south parking lot Saturday morning. “You gotta be f—in’ kidding me,” she exclaimed when she realized the unit was gone.

And I’m looking at the cement slab, like it’s going to reappear.”

Because the crooks had snipped the power line, the electricity was off in about half the store. When Jenquin’s husband Adam – who knows about such things – arrived, “We immediately pulled the breaker so that we didn’t have a potential fire hazard,” Jenquin said. “Thank goodness it didn’t come to that. Fire and books, not good.”

Police were called, questions were asked, a report was written. According to Jenquin, the responding officer told them that thieves will steal AC units, tear them apart and sell the copper wiring inside. “He didn’t lead me to believe it was very common, but he has incurred this before.”

As of Monday morning, Jenquin said, she was awaiting a visit from a police detective. “I know they have bigger fish to fry.”

A property near the Wilson’s building, she noticed, has a surveillance camera that might conceivably have recorded the theft.

The Jenquins quickly had the electrical problems repaired, then set up fans and dehumidifiers inside the shop.

A local air conditioning dealer changed its schedule to help Wilson’s Book World. The current plan is for a new unit to be installed Tuesday or Wednesday. A steel cage will be bolted over the top of it.

Between those costs and the video cameras the Jenquins plan to install, they’re looking at more than $10,000 (the AC unit was not insured).

They’ve set up a GoFundMe account for anyone who wishes to help.

If all goes well, Wilson’s will re-open Friday.

There’s one more thing about this caper that has Michelle Jenquin perplexed.

“We have a chain, with an orange cone, running across our parking lot when we’re closed,” she explained, “so people won’t park there when they’re going to Tropicana Field or something like that. We just block off the parking lot.

“Well, you have to move the chain to get in. And when I pulled in Saturday morning, it wasn’t moved. It was still across the driveway.

“So they were very polite. It seems they put the chain back when they left.”

RELATED READING: Wilson’s Book World celebrates 50 years



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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Shar Menlo

    May 20, 2024at8:02 pm

    Happened at my Mother’s home twice. The third new unit was covered with a tiger cage and 2 steel reinforced padlocks. Her corner lot was in West Central St.Petersburg.

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