A customer heads inside Longfellow Books in 2021. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

An undisclosed amount of cash and store credit cards were stolen during an apparent break-in at Longfellow Books in Portland’s Monument Square sometime Tuesday night, police said.

The theft was reported by employees who arrived shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday to open the store and saw items out of place. The staff discovered that cash from a deposit bag, blank checks and the store credit cards were missing, according to police.

There appeared to be no serious damage to the store and no books appeared to be stolen. But owner Ari Gerson said he won’t know for sure until the store performs an inventory.

Longfellow Books, with an entrance facing the square and another adjoining the One City Center parking garage, closed at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Gerson said his employees told him none of the doors were unlocked when they arrived the next morning.

Neither police nor Gerson would disclose how much was money was taken, but Gerson termed it “a healthy amount.” Gerson said the store typically does less than 10% of its sales in cash and has insurance that will allow him to recoup some of the stolen money.

“The ramifications are emotional and mental, not so much financial,” he said. Gerson decided to close the store Thursday to give his employees some time off to recover from the shock.

Longfellow Books, which was opened in 2000 by Stuart Gerson – Ari Gerson’s father – and Chris Bowe, has a loyal following among Maine readers and writers. They rallied to support the store 10 years ago when pipes broke during a snowstorm and many of the 30,000 books in the store were damaged by water.

Gerson said he doesn’t remember his father ever mentioning a break-in and there haven’t been any since he took over following his father’s death in 2015. Stuart Gerson was one of the founders of the Portland Buy Local organization and a longtime advocate for Maine writing.

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