'Lawless and Detached Birmingham' - Full transcription of answers given to the Birmingham Mail

We were recently featured in the Birmingham Mail regarding the recent break in at our premises on Stephenson St - We wanted to take the opportunity to share with you the full unedited version of Questions and Answers that our Ops manager Rich gave the mail.

Feel free to share and comment to open dialogues

Big thank you to them for taking an interest in our story and bringing an unconventional and inconvenient truth to a city that is constantly labelled as ‘up and coming’ by property developers - the reality is far bigger in the wider social context.

Firstly, any information about the break in would be great - date, rough time, how you became alerted to it - (i.e. was it just when opening up the next day etc)

We became aware this morning when the staff came in to open the store, the door was jammed open and the office door was kicked in aswell - the safe had been smashed repeatedly onto the floor unitl it burst open and all of our takings for the week had gone, the thing that made me really proud was how reactionary our staff were to get the doors back open and not be deterred by these vile people.

Who discovered it? And what was their reaction to the situation?

One of our managers Kirsty who is also our roaster discovered it and alerted everyone else to the situation, she called the police immediately but we knew they wouldn’t arrive at the scene, we took a crime number down and went about setting up the store to try and claw back some of the takings stolen.

What was taken or damaged?

3 doors, 2 locks broken and a safe destroyed

What is the address of the cafe that has been broken into and how long has the cafe been located there?

The cafe is situated on Stephenson St outside grand central which has been a hotbed of anti social behaviour and ridiculous tramworks for a while now. We originally were located on Newhall St back when Birmingham felt a lot different

I believe in a tweet it said it had happened twice before - how far back were these break-ins, what was taken/damaged then, were the people responsible caught in these instances?

2017 was the first instance and similar things were broken and an iPad was stolen also including broken windows etc, it happened again last year and then obviously this week. We are used to the ups and downs of the high st but at the moment the city feels lawless and detached.

Do you have CCTV of the break-in or did you take pictures of the damage that you could send to me and that we could use?

I dont have any footage I’m afraid - I do have a photo of how we found the office in the morning that I could send over to you

Did the police give you a crime number that I can have to talk to them about their progress?


What is your relation to the cafe? Can I take your full name and age?

I am a shareholder/operations manager - Richard Trueman - started in the business when we first opened as a head barista in 2012, worked in the centre of town for years so Ive seen how its all changed - Age: 36

What are you hoping is the outcome of the situation? (Community watch etc?)

This is where it gets interesting for me because I really dont think that the solution is political, we live in a very segregated city at the moment and people feel unsafe, the solution for me is philosophical - first of all how do we define a city as a good city… ever since i was a kid in Birmingham its been ‘up and coming’ and despite all the ’new places to go spend my money’ we still have to step over homeless people to get there, feel unsafe when we arrive and unfulfilled when we leave.A city should have a bigger and bolder concept of how it can ascribe the moniker of being ‘up and coming’ - if the metric being measured is simply economic engagement with a small niche of youthful expendable income then I would say that you’re just a grade A capitalist with no notion of social responsibility. i would like the outcome of raising awareness of how dangerous the city IS to be brought to the attention of people who can force change within the wider community and engage people to feel responsible for the shared culture that we all partake in on a daily basis, because if we dont start acknowledging these aspects of society as an important thread of our fabric then there really is little hope in creating this Brumtopia. A city should be judged on how it looks after its inhabitants … at the moment on all levels, we are failing… businesses are losing out because of aggressive behaviour, more and more people have a mass exodus out of the city at home time because it feels moody past a certain time, the homeless epidemic is so bad we actually remain blind to it and good people trying to help others in a wider sense can’t just be viewed as an anomaly. I would urge other business owners in the city to contact me or Yorks to mobilise ourselves and our customers to be more vigilant with what they see and help us create a form of neighbourhood watch to share information between us.

Lastly, I believe you have other cafes located in the city. How many others are there and have you ever had any trouble in these other locations?

We did have a unit on colmore row which during its brief tenure had someone stabbed in the head outside of it, multiple fights and probably worst of all… chuggers. Our store at Ikon has panic buttons installed and Brindley Place security that does a wonderful job of creating a great environment for people to feel safe and enjoy themselves.

Thanks - I feel very strongly and passionately about this kind of thing and spend a lot of my free time theorising about what it means to have this social responsibility in a wider sense, employ people in a changing world and ensure that the arguments that are so easy to turn political filled with ambiguity into a battle of what can individuals do in order to create a more shared culture that links in to a much bigger picture than simple economics. Maybe slightly more of a  hippyish response than you expected! but i really hope you can use a lot of it to get across that message.

We have also in the past given out free coffees and soup to homeless people (i believe in the mail too?)  to keep them warm, done clothing drives and our staff have routinely gone out to feed people and look after them.