MESA, Ariz. — Helen Schlie has owned Old and Rare Bookstore near Main Street and Mesa Drive since 1965.
When she opened the store, it didn’t take long for a customer to bring in a first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon.
“I don’t remember what we paid for it,” said Schlie. “My husband took care of it. But it was a big sacrifice at the time.”
Since buying the rare book, Schlie has kept it in a fireproof case, but has allowed people to see and touch the book.
“It’s never been under glass,” said Schlie. “It’s never been touched with white gloves. We have let people touch it, hold it, and read from it.”
Over Memorial Day weekend, Schlie’s prized possession was stolen. The Book of Mormon was first published in 1830. Only 5,000 first editions were printed. Today, about 500 of those books still exist. Schlie’s copy could be worth roughly $100,000.
Schlie has been taking out pages of the book to frame individually. About 50 pages are missing. She has one of those pages framed in her store.
Her hope is to sell those pages and fund a venture that will help young men and women pay for their Latter-day Saints missions, or for any other worthy cause.
Mesa police are investigating the theft, but would not say if they had any leads.