More than 1,000 items have gone missing from Medway’s libraries in the past financial year.
Figures requested by the Medway Messenger show that from April 2012 to the end of March this year, 1,072 items have disappeared from its 18 libraries – almost three a day.
The figures include 978 books, 33 audio books, 40 DVDs, 11 CDs, four jigsaws and three computer games.
Rochester, which was previously ranked as one of the best-read towns in the UK by online retailer Amazon, tops the table for the most missing stock, with 200 items unaccounted for in its library in Eastgate.
The lowest figures are for Grain and Medway children’s mobile libraries, which are missing six books each.
It seems many loans turn into ‘thefts’ because some new joiners are using false IDs and fake addresses, making it difficult to track them down.
Anyone can join a Medway library with just one form of documentation – and it doesn’t have to be photographic ID.
They can immediately take out books, DVDs, Blu-rays and games for Xbox and Wii consoles. Potentially, someone could walk away with more than £100 worth of items in one go.
As well as having to fork out to replace the items when they disappear, the council is losing revenue from overdue fines, which for the same period, totalled £35,502.
But a Medway Council spokesman said libraries lent 1,130,527 items to the public last year, with less than 0.1% of those going missing.
The spokesman added: “We always check ID for people joining our libraries and ask for either a passport or a photo driving licence.
“Alternatively, people can join with a recent council tax bill, a welfare benefits book, a bank, credit card or utility statement or a medical card or tenancy agreement. All these must not be any more than six months old.
“Libraries are there for all people, including those who may not have a passport or drive, and the purpose of them is to advance literacy, so it would not seem right or proper to make it too difficult for people who do not have photo ID to join.”