Missing Old Town Ledger Surfaces on eBay
Oak Bluffs police are investigating the apparent theft of a 70-year-old town land record book that was sold last month on the electronic auction marketplace known as eBay.
Lieut. Timothy Williamson yesterday confirmed that police are looking into the disappearance of a 1926 Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company Tax Ledger from the vault at town hall on School street.
Kyle Carson, an Oak Bluffs resident who does title searches, saw the ledger listed for sale last month on eBay, according to a letter Mr. Carson sent to the Oak Bluffs police.
In the letter, Mr. Carson said he bid on the ledger but did not pursue the item after he realized the ledger was town property. Mr. Carson said a buyer who is known only by an eBay name purchased the ledger on March 15.
Although the buyer and seller might assume the ledger is a public document, Mr. Carson wrote, the ledger is part of a series of land company ledgers that were used in the town between 1920 and 1926 to record information including property assessments and taxes.
While similar information for those years is recorded elsewhere in town, Mr. Carson noted: "What is unique is that ledgers also show transfer of property from one owner to another; if there is any contradiction or confusion in ownership records or the Dukes County Registry of Deeds, then this information is critical in determining land title."
He said Oak Bluffs principal assessor Dianne Wilson is careful to make certain that an employee monitors the use of the vault by nonemployees, but that he and Ms. Wilson recently found the door to the vault standing open with no monitor present.
"These volumes contain irreplaceable ownership information," Mr. Carson wrote. "They belong in the town vault."