Gilkey used bad checks and stolen credit card numbers gained through his employment at Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco. Gilkey did not consider that he stole books; instead he would talk about "doing business" with the dealers from whom he stole items. Allison Hoover Bartlett, who wrote The Man Who Loved Books Too Much chronicling Gilkey's thefts and methods, stated that he feels he deserves the books. She also noted that Gilkey would tell her the details of a theft after the statute of limitations on that crime had expired.
^John Woolfolk (February 7, 2003). "Book-theft suspect caught with the goods". San Jose Mercury News (California). "He was a thief who allegedly used a stolen credit card number to buy the original bestseller and reserve a room at the hotel where he planned to pick it up, police say. Now investigators say they have connected the man, John Charles Gilkey, to at least one other similar rare-book theft in the Bay Area and are looking into whether he is linked to others over the last two years worth $50,000... Gilkey, who was on probation out of Los Angeles for writing bad checks, told police he was unemployed and living on the streets of San Francisco. So officers were surprised when he promptly posted $15,000 bail."