TAMPA — The back door of the little blue bungalow was wide open Tuesday morning when Inkwood Books owner Stefani Beddingfield arrived for work.
"That's weird," she thought, as leaves blew inside.
The door to the independently owned bookstore is old and it usually sticks. Did the wind blow it open?
Then she noticed the frame was no longer aligned.
Electronics behind the counter were scattered across the ground.
The cash register drawer was gone.
So was her laptop.
Somebody had broken in overnight.
"It's Yom Kippur," Beddingfield thought. "I have to forgive this.
She called the Tampa Police Department and soon detectives were dusting for fingerprints. They had no leads by Thursday, but Beddingfield said police told her they hope to track the laptop through its serial number.
As far as she can tell, not a single book was stolen. She suspects the bandit wasn't one for prose.
"Not even sure they can read because they missed the bag that said, "DEPOSIT" in giant letters," she wrote on the bookstore's Facebook page.
Similar break-ins have happened at the store in years past, and those thieves bypassed the paperbacks, too.
How insulting, she thought.
"We're just trying to laugh it off a little bit," said Beddingfield, 38.
Family, friends and Inkwood loyals have rallied around her since the break-in. On Tuesday, Beddingfield's brother brought by a condolence sandwich (roast beef), then he and a co-worker at Buddy Brew coffee repaired the back door. To get rid of the bad mojo, a friend dropped off a candle, lighter and some sage — and threw in a bottle of whiskey for good measure.
Then a new customer, after hearing news of the robbery, bought a whole heap of books.
Others have offered to organize a fundraiser to donate money to replace what was lost.
To that, Beddingfield replies: "We have a crowdfunding model already — it's book sales," she said. "Just come buy books."
She has always felt safe during her two and a half years as owner of Inkwood, and she still does. But if another thief decides to target her store, Beddingfield has a plan:
"My only weapon is a copy of Ulysses. If you try this again, we're just going to start reading this really big book to you," she joked.
She might even recite some poetry to bore them into submission, she said.
After the police left Tuesday, Beddingfield updated the sign outside her store that usually dons sassy social commentary.
"Dear robber, we're getting a guard puppy," she wrote. "#watchyoself."
Contact Katie Mettler at [email protected] or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler.