Library sends police officer to collect overdue books… from a five-year-old girl

A five-year-old girl was left in tears after police visited her home - to collect her overdue library books.

Hailey Benoit was left scared and believing she would be arrested after being questioned about two books which were due for return to Charlton Public Library, in Massachusetts, several months before.

Her mother Shannon said: 'I thought it was way overboard. I closed my door, I looked at my daughter and she started crying.'

Scared: Shannon (left) and Hailey (right) Benoit could not believe it when a police officer turned up to question them about an overdue library book

The drama began when local police Sergeant Dan Down knocked on the door to chase up the errant books. It was part of a blitz on $4,000 worth of unpaid fines.

The books were found and returned, but Mrs Benoit said sending the police around was like 'pounding a ten penny nail with a sledge hammer'.

Warning: Charlton Public Library decided to crack down on $4,000 worth of unpaid fines by sending police around to people's homes

She also said they have never received any warnings the misplaced books were wanted back.

And even Sgt Dowd admitted he felt uneasy with his mission.

He said: 'Nobody wanted to, on this end, get involved in it. But the library contacted us, and the chief delegated, and apparently I was one of the low men on the totem pole.'

Regardless of whether the action was too heavy-handed, Massachusetts state law does state that the non-return of library books is a crime.

Charlton Police said they thought a friendly reminder might make a better impression, and get better results, than a cold summons to court.

Uneasy: Charlton Police Sergeant Dan Dowd said he did not want to go looking for the missing books