Published: 10:00, 05 July 2019
A mystery vandal has been tearing up dozens of books at a charity shop.
As many as 15 paperbacks a week have had their pages ripped in half at the Demelza store in Mortimer Street, Herne Bay.
The callous bibliophobe - dubbed "the book ripper" by customers - has been targetting sections out of sight from staff since April.
Store manager Nick Rogers says the slippery perpetrator tears the pages horizontally before putting them back on the shelf.
“We initially had the odd book getting torn, which we dismissed as being children or someone trying to prank us,” he said.
“But in the last couple of months, we’ve been finding about 10 or 15 a week. They can be worth anything up to £3.
“We wouldn’t sell a book with one ripped page, but in some of them it’s all the pages.
“It seems to be right round the corner where we can’t see them – in the true crime, sport, travel and miscellaneous sections.”
The store’s proceeds are donated to Demelza Hospice Care for Children, a charity that cares for youngsters battling serious or terminal illnesses.
Shop workers have erected signs to try to deter the sneaky saboteur - but so far this has been ineffective.
“So far, though we haven’t caught anyone,” he said.
“I’ve put signs up and we’re making our presence known. Other than that, though, we’re not really sure what we can do.
“It’s really sad and disappointing because we’re totally reliant on people donating them in good faith to raise funds – to then have someone destroy them seems so senseless.”
A number of books at Herne Bay Library in the High Street have also been damaged over the last six months.
Staff members have not identified a pattern to the vandalism as the defaced paperbacks have been from a variety of sections.
“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.
“Members of 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.”