BERKLEY, MI - Well-known astrologer Robert Thibodeau has successfully predicted everything from the election of U.S. President George W. Bush to earthquake disasters in Los Angeles and Japan. But he had no idea an arsonist was bent on destroying his Mayflower Bookstore until he got a call at home from police.
Thibodeau said he was shocked to learn of the arson.
"I don't have any enemies that I know of," he said. "I don't know if this is just a prankster or who it could be."
An arsonist poured a flammable liquid through an opening in the front door of the store at 2645 W. 12 Mile, and set it on fire, officials said.
The fire destroyed the contents of the store and damaged much of the interior, said Berkley Public Safety Sgt. Pete Kelly.
A motorist saw the blaze Monday morning about 12:15 a.m. and drove to the police station to alert officers, Kelly said.
Police have no suspects.
Investigators are seeking witnesses in the bookstore arson and also the arson of a GMC pickup truck Oct. 30 in the owner's driveway at Wiltshire and Tyler.
"It is very unusual for us to have an arson in Berkley, let alone two in one week," Kelly said.
Thibodeau first became known for his often accurate predictions in the media back in the 1970's. His predictions continue to appear on local radio shows and in area newspapers.
His specialty store housed thousands of books - including rare first editions dating back more than 100 years - and covered such topics as philosophy, religion, spirituality, nutrition, meditation and astrology.
Though the street value of the books is $70,000 to $80,000, Thibodeau said their true value is incalculable because he collected the books from across the country over the past 30 years.
"How do you put a price on a book that I had to travel for a month to find?" he asked. "It's terrible. I've never experienced anything like this."
Some of the books were worth up to $1,000, others from $100 to $500, he added.
The vehicle an arsonist targeted last week was parked in a driveway several blocks from the bookstore. Police do not know whether the two arsons are connected.
Kelly said investigators do not know yet how the vehicle blaze was set. Thibodeau and the vehicle owner are both cooperating with investigators, Kelly added.
A confessed workaholic, Thibodeau said the arson leaves him without a job to go to for the first time in more than three decades.
Although he is upset and confused by the loss of his store, Thibodeau has a hint of what's in the future.
"I think I'm going to try to reopen," he said.
This is a great tragedy. Bob had collected rare and irreplaceable books. This is like a miniature version of the burning of the Library of Alexandria.
The community in Michigan is doing what they can to get the
Mayflower back in business. Owner Robert Thibodeau has done a great
deal to promote Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner.
He carried minimal insurance and is expecting to recover less than
10% of his value for the fire.
If you live nearby and have been a past customer at the store, please
drop off a book or books you can spare as a donation.
A group started in Yahoo groups, the name is:
mayflower_books_support. If you want to keep current with
developments in the reopening (hopefully by February), please join.
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