Library burglaries shock close-knit Chico

Thieves target small town fixture

CHICO, Texas -- While some rural communities gather at the local diner or hardware store to share gossip or check on neighbors, in Chico, the must-stop for many is the town's library.

"We're pretty rural, so for some people, it's their internet access," said executive director Michelle Slonaker. "For kids, we don't have a YMCA, or a pool, so they'll come in here after school or during the summer."

The library suddenly closed on Monday after a bad break-in over the holiday weekend. It's the second burglary in the past month, something that saddens Slonaker.

"It has taken the access away from the information to everyone," she said.

Both burglaries happened through a rear door of the facility, which is in a longer building that has been around for decades.

Slonaker estimates they'll be out at least $5,000 because of damage and stolen cash, including that taken from a cash drawer and small safe kept in the back office.

"We don't know who did it, or if it's the same people," she said.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said he'd heard plenty about the burglaries from the town of only 1,000 people.

"It's attacking the very fabric of our small communities," said Akin. "It's a setting much like you'd see in a Normal Rockwall painting. The folks in Chico are mighty upset their library has been vandalized and burglarized."   

He said they're looking for area surveillance images, while also preparing to offer a $1,000 reward for information on suspects. 

For information on how to help the library, visit the Facebook page.

Anyone with information on the suspect(s) can contact the Wise County Sheriff's Office. 

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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