A specialist transgender shop in Folkestone has been targeted by burglars, who stole money and sex toys.
Recent police reports have shown that crimes against transgender people have risen by almost a third in the last two years.
Sue Sheppard, 58, who set up Lacies Fantasy Girls in Dover Road in 1999, awoke to the sight of police torches with the news that she had been burgled.
Sue, who lives above the shop with her partner Ken, first assumed that the officers were the thieves and tackled them:
“The first time we realised is when men with torches, stomping there feet and shouting at the top of the landing were coming into the bedroom and we thought we were going to be attacked.”
The shop’s CCTV footage revealed two white ‘stocky’ men smash down the front door in the early hours of the last Friday morning.
The thieves stole between £300 and £500 by ripping out the door from the electronic till, before escaping with shopping bags filled with sex toys.
Sue has said the reaction to the burglary has been less than warm from certain members of the town, including that of her own window cleaner, who has said his continued work at the shop would comprise his evangelical beliefs.
“We are very much in UKIP country here so there is a bit of a backwater. It’s the first time we’ve admitted that we’re a transgender store and I see on the comments on Facebook that ‘I didn’t realise that was a transgender store.
“We are prepared for people’s reactions.”
The latest figures show that there have been 44 incidences of verbal and physical abuse reported to police and from her own experience, Sue is surprised that it is mostly young people hurling abuse.
“I am a bit shocked. I thought young people would know better and be a bit more broad-minded.”
“This obsession with sex and gender is a bit ridiculous, I think assume because you are a different sexuality, a different gender that you’re obsessed with sex.
“A lot of transgender people can’t get jobs because of prejudice and I think we just need to get over that stereotyping.”
The police have released one man on bail and kept the other in remand. The items have since been returned to the shop.