Kent

Herne Bay: Mystery vandal ripping books in seaside town

Bookshop manager Nick Rogers with one of the torn books Image copyright Nick Rogers
Image caption Manager Nick Rogers estimates that well over 100 books have been damaged

A seaside town has become the setting for a crime spree that has dismayed lovers of literature.

A mystery vandal is stalking Herne Bay, ripping pages of books in half before putting them back on the shelves.

The so-called Herne Bay Book Ripper has struck at both the town's library and at the Demelza charity shop.

The shop's crestfallen manager Nick Rogers said: "We wouldn't sell a book with one page ripped, so with 20 or 30, they're absolutely ruined."

Staff first noticed the novel crime in the spring and estimate that well over 100 books have been damaged since, depriving the hospice charity of several hundred pounds.

'Obviously disappointing'

Mr Rogers said: "We have no idea who did it. It's an L-shaped shop and these books are right around the corner - in the true crime section.

"We can't see anything, but we haven't heard anything, either, and you would think we might.

"But it is in full view of the window, so people walking by could see it happen."

Image copyright Nick Rogers
Image caption Ripping yarns: the mystery criminal's reign of vandalism has gone on for several months

A Kent County Council spokesman said about 20 books in the town's library had been damaged, with pages sometimes being torn out completely.

He said: "The damage is obviously disappointing. However, we do not consider 20 books over six months to be an epidemic and not comparable to the situation at the Demelza charity shop.

"Our staff are now being extra watchful to try to catch the person responsible or at least cut down on the opportunities to cause more damage."

Kent Police said officers were investigating.

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