When Jennifer Williamson-Forster and her staff returned to the South Sound Reading Foundation’s book barn Monday morning, the facility was in disarray.
Books had been thrown on the floor, equipment had been smashed, and someone had written profanities on boxes.
The nonprofit organization partners with local food banks and schools to promote literacy and provide books to children.
“It’s frustrating and a little scary,” said Williamson-Forster, the director of the foundation. “I can’t imagine anybody having an issue with us. We’re out giving away free books, we’re not terribly offensive.”
Sometime during the weekend, someone had broken a lock on the book barn’s doors at 1105 Tracy Lane SE in Lacey, said Williamson-Forster. She said she’s unsure whether anything was taken, or if the person who broke in just wanted to cause damage.
The demand for reading material is especially high during the holiday season, Williamson-Forster said.
“It’s hard to know if they took anything because we have so many books coming in and out right now,” Williamson-Forster said. “It’s our busy season.”
While it’s possible that no books were taken, several were destroyed or damaged, and staff spent all day Monday cleaning up the mess.
“It’s kind of like getting a kick in the stomach, it slows you down a little bit,” Williamson-Forster said. “And we have a lot to do right now.”
While the exact time of the weekend break-in is unknown, Williamson-Forster said she suspects that it happened Saturday. When she called the Lacey Police Department, she learned that the organization’s neighbor — the Lacey Boys and Girls Club — also had reported vandalism.
According to a Lacey police report, someone broke into the Boys and Girls Club’s parking area sometime on Saturday and ransacked a storage shed. Nothing was reported stolen.
The suspect or suspects then broke into a van and discharged a fire extinguisher inside, according to the report.
No one has been arrested in either case.
The recent vandalism has left Williamson-Forster uneasy about the book barn’s location. She recently started a Go Fund Me site to help replace books damaged during the break-in, and to move the book barn to a different, more secure location. The site can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/qkdvnmd8.
The organization is also seeking donations of new and gently used books. To learn more about how to donate, call the foundation at 360-412-4499, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.