District Attorney Files Charges in Connection With Rare Book Theft

September 27, 1999

Monday, September 27, 1999
On Friday, September 24, 1999, Deputy District Attorney Ann Huntsman filed (7) counts of burglary and (9) counts of receiving stolen property on Ezekiel Maxwell Steiner, 24, who was arrested for a series of thefts of rare books from bookstores throughout L.A. and Orange counties. Detectives from LAPD’s Art Theft Detail seized over 600 books from his residence during a search warrant in Hollywood on September 3, 1999. Steiner appeared to have a passion for books and surrounded himself with classics and great literature. He targeted rare first edition books, some valued at over $1,700 apiece.

He sold most of the books to stores specializing in rare books. Other books he kept for his own pleasure. Steiner usually posed as a customer and returned to some bookstores as many as 6 or 7 times to conduct additional thefts, usually hiding the books in his clothing. He also managed to gain access to locked display cases. His quiet, studious demeanor did not arouse suspicion from store owners. Steiner’s victims include bookstores in Hollywood, Wilshire, Venice, Long Beach, and Anaheim. However, he travels frequently and has recently been to bookstores in San Diego, Santa Cruz and San Francisco. He has also visited other bookstores across the U.S., including ones in New York, Arizona, Illinois and Massachusetts.

Detectives are still trying to locate a 1922 copy of Ulysses by James Joyce valued at $25,000 that was stolen from a bookstore victimized by Steiner. Detectives are also trying to identify additional stolen property and to locate stores that have bought books from Steiner during the past year. Steiner goes by the nickname "Zeke" and has used the names Ezekiel Mishell, Ezekiel Oliver, Mike Steiner, "Max", and "Jake".

After his arrest, Steiner was held on $100,000 bail. He has posted bail and is free pending court proceedings.

For additional information, contact the Art Theft Detail at 213-485-2524.

For Release 1:50 pm PST
September 27, 1999