Back in the Middle Ages, when books were written by hand in natural light only (because candles were deemed too dangerous around the books), the best way to prevent a book from being stolen or damaged was to include a book curse. (Fortunately most people believed in such things then. )
Nowadays libraries and archives rely on theft detection strips, sensitizing/desensitizing stations, , traffic control, and surveillance measures. (Most people do not seem as susceptible to curses these days.) Unfortunately, thefts from both regular and special collections seems to be on the rise. It can be books, documents, artifacts, or parts of the same.
On my last trip to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, there was a rogues’ gallery of known archive thieves at the entrance to the second floor research center.
Why do we steal? Do we want the secret satisfaction of owning/handling/seeing something that nobody else will have access too? Do we think we are getting something over on the Man or Woman?