CLEARWATER - The downtown Clearwater Public Library is open to anyone that wants to enter. But police say that one man took his library privileges too far.
"I've been in libraries for 40 years, and I have never seen anything like this before. I've never had this kind of thing happen before," said Barbara Pickell, the Director of the Clearwater Library System.
Last Thursday, the flush valve assemblies on three toilets were stolen out of the first floor men's room while the library was open for business. Late last night, Clearwater Police arrested Herman Acosta and charged him with grand theft.
"It's a little unusual that during business hours he walks in, in the middle of the day, and dismantles the toilet and takes the pipes," explained Clearwater Public Safety spokesperson Elizabeth Watts.
Plumbing was also stolen from toilets at two fast food restaurants in Clearwater and a library in Dunedin.
"Somebody must have been truly desperate to need to do this," Pickell said.
According to arrest affidavits, this isn't the first time that Herman Acosta has been arrested for stealing plumbing parts off of toilets.
Largo police arrested Acosta last week. Officers say he admitted stealing flush valves from several businesses along East Bay and Ulmerton Roads.
Sherif Toobia owns the Dairy Queen on Ulmerton Rd. and had one of his toilets targeted.
"I just said what, this cannot be happening. It has to be someone professional that did it," Toobia said.
Police say that Acosta did indeed have a plumbing background and was selling the parts at scrap yards for money.
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