After New Year's Day Break-In, Passages Bookshop Is Back in Business

Owner David Abel is still looking for the stolen books, including rare works by Andy Warhol and Samuel Beckett.

By Daniel Bromfield January 17, 2020

A New Year's Day smash-and-grab left Passages Bookshop glass-strewn and down close to a hundred valuable volumes. 

After a smash-and-grab on New Year’s Day left it glass-strewn and bereft, Passages Bookshop is back in business.

Owner David Abel spent the time since the break-in repairing and “enhancing” the front door and display cases at his Lloyd District storefront, though he says he’s in the process of bringing in additional security.

“I’m still finding glass, even though I’ve vacuumed a dozen times,” he says.

Abel wasn’t even out of bed when the police notified him of the break-in early in the morning of January 1. In addition to taking the cash box, the thieves had targeted five locked glass display cases containing many rare, first-edition, and signed volumes. Three of the cases were smashed. 

Among the valuable losses: an original edition of the 1960s poetry journal Some/thing featuring a cover by Andy Warhol, several signed books by artist Ed Ruscha, a signed collection of lyrics by singer-songwriter Patti Smith, and a first-edition volume of poems by Irish writer Samuel Beckett.

Why would thieves target a bookstore? “I can only imagine that the locked display cases just implied the books inside were valuable,” says Abel—though, as many of the books are little-known to the public, they may be difficult to sell and could end up unceremoniously dumped somewhere.

A list of the stolen books is available on Passages’ website. None have been recovered thus far.

Abel originally opened Passages in 1994 in Albuquerque before moving to Portland in 1997. The items for sale are mostly poetry books or works on modern art. 

Though the financial loss will be significant, especially once security upgrades are complete, Abel insists Passages will continue. “It’s not going to force me to close,” he says. “It’s not going to prevent me from continuing to be a bookseller, but it slows me down.”

Filed under
Show Comments