Rainbow Project staff left distraught after burglars raid offices
Staff at the Belfast offices of an LGBT charity have told of their dismay after it was targeted by burglars.
Five laptops were stolen from the Rainbow Project, which promotes the health and well-being of LGBT people.
The computers hold data on service users across Northern Ireland, but the organisation confirmed that no client details had been breached.
The burglars used a fire extinguisher to smash a window into the main office, and several other windows were damaged.
The PSNI believes the break-in occurred between 6.45pm on Tuesday and 7.45am yesterday, and urged anyone who noticed suspicious activity to come forward.
Jayne Robinson, who works as a sustainability officer at the organisation, said she was "absolutely gutted" after discovering the burglary.
"It brought tears to my eyes - I absolutely love working for the Rainbow Project and our safe space has been totally invaded," she said.
Although it is not clear if the raid was a hate crime, Jayne said she felt it was a deliberate attack on the organisation.
"This centre is Belfast's only representation for LGB&T people. They had a plan of action and targeted us specifically, so I do think it was motivated by hate," she said.
The charity supports thousands of people within the LGBT community.
Security is tight at the premises on Waring Street and had been increased two weeks ago, staff said. The two rooms broken into were the main offices, both of which contain laptops.
The burglary comes just nine days before Belfast Pride week starts.
Jayne added: "We won't let this affect our Pride week, we'll rise up in solidarity, regroup, and continue on."
The Green Party's Mal O'Hara condemned the break-in and offered assurances that no personal data had been compromised.
He said: "This is a gut-wrenching burglary."
SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon said: "The Rainbow Project does excellent work in our community, and for mindless thugs to destroy their premises like this is nothing short of deplorable."
Sinn Fein MP Mickey Brady expressed his anger at the burglary.
"The Rainbow Project provides an invaluable service to many in the community and will continue to do so," he said.
"Those engaged in these criminal attacks on people's property need to face the full rigours of the law."