'Honesty cafe' sketchbook returned after robbery plea issued
A sketchbook full of priceless personal drawings stolen during a theft at an "honesty cafe" has been returned after staff appealed for the thieves to have a change of heart.
The non-profit Dock Cafe has an "honesty ethos", meaning it does not charge customers for food or drink, and instead asks that they make an honest donation of whatever they can afford.
On Tuesday, the premises were the subject of a robbery in which the business's safe was raided.
Staff revealed that among the items stolen was a sketchbook containing dozens of personal drawings, which the cafe had been minding after a tourist accidentally left it behind during a visit.
Following a plea by staff from the Christian-run cafe, which is situated in Belfast city's Titanic Quarter, the sketchbook was returned on Wednesday.
Chaplain Chris Bennett, who helps co-ordinate the cafe, said: "I'm delighted to say the sketchbook has been returned to the cafe.
"We said that if they just returned it, we'd keep it anonymous, so I'll not go into the details of exactly how it was returned.
"I was optimistic that this might happen and yet I knew I was placing the ethos of the cafe on the line.
"We trust people, we believe in their honesty, that's the daily reality of the place and yet I know that I was taking a very big chance in hoping the notebook would be returned.
"It inspires me so much, that we are right to trust people. Honesty works as it says on our cafe wall."
Mr Bennett also revealed that since the incident, members of the public have been donating to the cafe, meaning they have also been able to recover the money also stolen during the robbery.
"People have been walking in with envelopes of donations and just handed them to us saying 'we heard about what happened and we wanted to give you this'.
"Someone else who saw the story started up a justgiving page and people have been giving donations on that. So, we've also got the money back."
He said that staff at the cafe feel no ill-will towards whoever was behind the theft.