RESIDENTS have reacted with outrage after a public library was broken into and its computers stolen.
Thieves smashed their way into Portchester Library, in West Street, overnight, between 8.30pm on Tuesday and 6.45am yesterday.
Police are investigating the burglary, and a spokesman said that the burglars tried to open the front door with a crowbar, before smashing a window to get in.
Once inside, they took computer hard drives, and tried but failed to break into a vending machine.
The library was closed yesterday and users were horrified at the damage.
Dean Mason, from West Street, said: ‘It is totally wrong. It is a public facility which should be protected.
‘Lots of people who work in the library are volunteers and it is a public space.
‘The thieves should hand themselves in as they have effectively robbed the public.
‘It is a crime of disregard.’
Another library user, Cathy Haylock, from Portchester, said: ‘I am really sad to hear about the break-in.
‘It is pointless. It must’ve been done by some very desperate people.
‘We know the libraries are under threat anyway so this is disgusting.’
Carole Campbell, also from Portchester, said: ‘It is terrible. I cannot express in words what I feel about it.’
Executive member for culture, Cllr Andrew Gibson, from Hampshire County Council which runs the library, urged people to check if the library is open before visiting. He also spoke of the damage caused.
He said: ‘We were devastated to discover yesterday morning that Portchester Library had been broken into during the night.
‘There is damage to the building and some computers have been taken, which has meant we were unable to open.
‘We are working very hard to be ready to reopen, if we can get our systems up and running in time.
‘I’d advise people planning to visit the library to check whether it is open before making a journey.’
To check whether Portchester library is open call 0300 555 1387 or go to hants.gov.uk/library-portchester.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting reference 44150418234.