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Protecting Your School Books from Thieves

by Ron Kurtus (updated 28 February 2022)

Have you ever had a textbook stolen by another student?

Some students find it easier—and less expensive—to get a needed textbook for school by stealing someone else's book. Although you can put your name in the book, the thief can cover the name, making it difficult to identify or prove the book is yours.

By cleverly marking your book, you will be able to to identify it, which will help to prevent losing your book to a thief in school.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Protect your books

Books required for classes are expensive. As you move into higher grades, the books become extremely expensive. Also, you start to relieve the burden on your parents by being concerned about the cost.

Buying used books

Some students will buy used textbooks needed for their classes. Other students will keep their books in good condition to sell to the next class and recoup some of the money spent on the books.

Identify as yours

It is a good idea to put your name in your book to identify it as yours. This is to make sure no one accidentally or purposely takes the book and claims it as his or hers. But also, you don't want to put so many identifying marks on your books that you can't resell them.

Stolen book a major hassle

Even if you are not worried about losing the money, it can be a major hassle to have a book stolen when you need it for assignments or to study for a test. It is best to try to discourage others from even considering taking your book.

Experience with book thief

I had an experience with someone taking one of my textbooks.

Our high school did not have enough lockers for all students, so each of us had to share with another student. In our homeroom locker partners were determined alphabetical, so my locker partner was Mike Lewis (L comes after K). I don't know why they didn't allow us to share with a friend, because I barely knew Mike.

The first week of class, I noticed that my History book was missing. I couldn't remember leaving it somewhere, so I was afraid I'd have to go and buy another expensive book.

Then I noticed the History book in Mike's part of the locker had a mark on its edge, similar to the mark I had put on my book. But when I opened the book, my name wasn't on the inside cover. Instead, Mike's name was there.

But then I noticed that someone had pasted a sheet of paper on the inside cover. Mike had covered my name and had put his name on that pasted paper. (Talk about being devious.)

To verify it was my book, I turned to page 65. There between the pages was my name, where I had secretly written it. Mike Lewis had taken my History book, pasted a page over my name on the inside cover and claimed the book as his!

I took the book back, tore off the pasted sheet, and reclaimed the book as mine.

From then on, I was very careful of my locker mate. Thankfully, I didn't have to share a locker with him the next semester.

What to do

When you get your textbooks for the next semester or term in school, you should put your name inside the cover to show it is yours. It is also wise you put your name or some distinguishing mark on the outside edge of the book, so that you can identify it if someone else has the book.

Problem with name on edge

You could put your name on the edge, but then that would make the book difficult to resell at the end of the semester. Some like to buy used books and others want to get some money back from buying and expensive book.

If you want to resell your textbook at the end of the year, you usually don't want to mark the outside or edges with your name and such. If you have enough money and don't plan to sell your books to get some money back, it doesn't matter how you mark your books.

My technique

My technique was to make a small circle in ink on the edge of the book, so that I could identify it. But it wouldn't be so obvious that it might turn off someone wanting to buy a used book.

Then I'd write my name between the pages on some page inside the book. This way I could still identify the book as mine in case someone messed with my name on the cover or my mark on the edge.

Someone had suggested this as a method to protect your property. I did it but never thought someone would stoop so low as to steal a book from me. But it did happen, and I was glad I protected my property.


Unfortunately, some students will steal needed textbooks from others and then claim the books as their own. If this happens to you, it not only will cost you or your parents money, but it can also affect your schoolwork until you buy a replacement book.

Although you put your name in the book, the thief can cover the name, making it difficult to identify or prove the book is yours. Cleverly marking your book allows you to identify it and help prevent losing your book to a thief in school.

Protect your valuables

Resources and references

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