A bookshop in London had its front and back windows smashed in an attempted burglary.
Gay’s the Word became the UK’s first gay bookshop at its opening in 1979, and featured in the movie Pride. There was initial worry that the burglary was a hate crime directed at the LGBTQ community but it was quickly ascertained that it was just a straight forward theft. Or at least it would have been if the burglars had kept their minds on the job…
After looting the shop, the burglars helped themselves to a bottle of tequila which had been left on the premises after a staff member’s birthday. A member of the public had heard the windows being smashed and called the police. The burglars were then caught in the bookshop kitchen drinking Prosecco. They were sentenced soon after- one man jailed for six months and the other given 16 weeks, suspended for 12 months.
Bookseller Uli Lenart said:
“They had been there for some time. I think they were looking for cash, but when they didn’t find any, they started bringing up computer equipment from the basement. As I went through the shop afterwards, I found an empty bottle of tequila, and an open bottle of Prosecco on the kitchen table downstairs. They seemed to have been boozing up mid-burglary, which probably wasn’t the most prudent thing to do.”
According to the owners no books were taken but money for an LGBT+ (Mosaic) charity was stolen.
The shop was quickly repaired and reopened on Monday. “We’ve been at the broken windows rodeo before,” Lenart added, referencing previous homophobic attacks, the latest of which took place in 2018.
At a book launch on Thursday customers were informed about the break-in:
“We explained we were resilient about the whole thing,” said Lenart, “but that we were sad about the money for charity – and we received so many donations we’ve got far more money for Mosaic now than we had before. The positive community response has been wonderful. Customers turning up with bunches of flowers, people dropping off bottles of Prosecco, publishers sending us free books and boxes of chocolates. We’ve felt really held and supported, and we’ve found that deeply touching.”