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Second Burglary at No HQ

Computer Networks Down - see below "....We had jokingly ruled out Prescott from the first burglary because of the size of the window. This time it appears we could be looking for an alcoholic, ex-gymnast or circus performer, not afraid of heights but with early onset diabetes and a poor taste in music. .."

Hi Mary -

Don't know if this (attached) is of any interest. Doesn't seem to be your run-of-the-mill north-east burglar at work here. My husband's yard used to be broken into regularly, and usually there was a trail of destruction and wanton vandalism left behind - but no sophisticated electronic equipment.

The Yes Campaign continue to flood the letter pages up here incognito (ie, no mention of their being Labour-party councillors, trade union officials, or belonging to mysteriously-funded "groups of companies" which are heavily into the disposal of "EU" grants and other public money), in praise of the gravy train for which they have pre-purchased tickets.

Meanwhile Peter Hain, Gordon Brown and John Prescott are also visiting the north-east, exhorting us to vote Yes - speaking purely in the guise of private citizens, you understand: no hint of government authority about it, now that there are only twenty-eight days to the closing of the poll ...

What on earth has all this - a forced referendum by easily corruptible postal ballot on a non-issue which leaves ordinary people cold (unless they're whipped up into knee-jerk them-and-us regional "patriotism" or anti-Toryism by people who play on their emotions) got to do with "democracy" ?

Ah well - maybe their hubris is marking them out for a fall, sooner or later. One can but hope.

Tuesday, 12 October

Second Burglary at No HQ

Computer Networks Down

Apologies to all for the interrupted service over the last few days, but this has been caused by disruption to the computer networks and a second burglary.

After the first burglary on the night of Wednesday 6th October it was assumed that it was a random 'opportunist' theft involving our petty cash...60, 80 euros, 2,000,000 lire and 10 Australian dollars, and our digital camera. The acrobatic and gymnastic skills involved in getting through the 3rd floor window had the police baffled and SOCO shaking their heads. The following day the computers seemed to be playing up, and on the morning of Friday 8th October the main computer system ceased to function. A remarkable coincidence?

We are currently awaiting (today) for a Forensic Computer Analyst to examine the office systems to see if it is random and coincidental, or a deliberate attempt at sabotage.

Damage from the Wednesday break-in was cleared up and files replaced in drawers. There was no wanton destruction or damage and the crime scene with the empty cash box laid open on the chair next to the window and a few drawers laid open and a few envelopes scattered. Something just didn't sit right. Kids usually mess everything and graffiti the walls. Thieves going to such lengths to get in would have taken the fax machines, ink cartridges and computers.

On Monday morning we arrived at work to find that we had been broken into again. This time there was nothing in the petty cash and nothing appeared to have been taken from our office. However, the coffee shop downstairs lost a few bottles of beer, some CD's and a jar of chocolate sauce had been opened. Entry and exit was through the same 16x28 window and across the very steep rooftops. We had jokingly ruled out Prescott from the first burglary because of the size of the window. This time it appears we could be looking for an alcoholic, ex-gymnast or circus performer, not afraid of heights but with early onset diabetes and a poor taste in music.

We had mentioned in the office on Friday that we would get the office swept for bugs on Monday, so the second burglary may also have just been a coincidence.

Hopefully we can catch up on the backlog of news stories that have been running in the press and can get back into the regional assembly fight having been 'sidetracked' for half a week. I am sure that eveything is totally innocent and that the bloodstained clothing taken from behind one of the computer stations will throw up a DNA match of a local career criminal. It would be surprising if there were no match because, as the police have remarked, this 'unusual' break-in does not appear to be the someone's first step on the crime ladder.

As I write, reinforced security bars have just gone up at the windows and it is starting to look like a prison in here. The sophisticated alarm system will hopefully now deter even the most committed burglar.

Thursday, October 7, 2000

Burglary at No Campaign Offices

The North East No Campaign suffered a temporary set back today following a break-in at their offices in Frederick Street. Situated on the third floor above a coffee shop, No Campaign staff arrived at work to find the front window broken and draws and cabinets rifled.

Perhaps not unusual for Sunderland, another 'opportunist' theft, but the window the burglar got through has to be accessed via steep roof slopes and is over precarious drop with loose guttering. Not the work of a passing opportunist. A passing drug addict may not have been phased by the 50ft drop but he would have had to have had gymnastic skills and the balance of a Navaho Indian to get through the window.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow. Computer systems are being checked for interference.

The press actually arrived before the police this morning after they were informed as they rang the office on campaign business.

They did muse that perhaps the thieves were looking for the 100,000 and made the same mistake as the Electoral Commission in getting the wrong campaign. They also ruled out involvement by the Deputy Prime Minister after observing that he could not have got through such a small window.

More to follow.

Break-in News Update

Apologies to everyone for the lack of information hitting the sites in the past couple of days. The break-in discovered on Thursday appeared, despite the bizarre nature of entry, to be a 'random' opportunist burglary.

The crashing of our computer systems may be a coincidence. The main system has been completely wiped out, and the other two are seriously disturbed.

The Police, who expressed amazement and the nature of the theft and entry, are now keeping an open mind as to the intent. We are waiting for a forensic computer analyst, appointed by the insurance company, to diagnose how the computers have been attacked and if anyone accessed the systems and interfered with them during the break-in.

However, when moving work stations to check on computer connections, an item of bloodstained clothing was found. It appears to have been taken from a sports bag in the office and then discarded. The method of entry through a small widow with jagged glass over a 60ft drop appears to have caused an injury. Hopefully this will enable a DNA match should the culprit have a criminal record. The Police did remark that it was very likely that if it was an ordinary burglary then the perpetrator would have 'previous.' First -time and opportunist burglars do not perform such dramatic and dangerous methods of entry.