Northern Ireland news

Laptops stolen in Rainbow Project burglary

 The Rainbow Project office after the break in. Picture from @TRPNI on Twitter
Brendan Hughes

THE Rainbow Project's offices in Belfast city centre have been ransacked.

The LGBT advocacy organisation said staff arrived for work on Wednesday morning to find its offices had been broken into overnight.

Four laptops were stolen and windows were smashed in the break-in at the Waring Street offices, which are used by around a dozen staff.

Police are investigating the burglary and have appealed for information.

The Rainbow Project posted images on Facebook and Twitter of the damage caused.

"It is a week-and-a-half until Belfast Pride week and this is not what we need," the group said in a post online.

"Our laptops have been stolen. Until CSI have been, we are unable to ascertain what else is missing meaning that our very important work will be hindered.

"But we rise up, we continue. Now, we begin the journey to fix and replace everything that was broken.

"Please be assured all our data is kept on a secured server and our laptops are all encrypted. Access to our server has been cut off from the laptops that were stolen."

Gavin Boyd, policy and advocacy manager at the Rainbow Project, said they don't know whether the break-in was homophobically-motivated.

"Staff are just really shaken up. Ones who were first in this morning were in tears," he said.

"Belfast Pride is our busiest time of year ­ people have been working for months to get their events organised.

"It knocks a bit of your confidence, but staff have really been working hard getting back to it today."

The organisation has made a public plea for donations following the break-in.

Mr Boyd described the response so far as "incredible", saying: "People have been really generous."

Police said it is believed entry was gained to the property sometime between 6.45pm on Tuesday and 7.45am on Wednesday

They urged anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area overnight or who has any information that could assist their enquiries to phone them on 101 quoting reference number 243 18/07/18.

Picture from @TRPNI on Twitter

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