Theft at Art and Craft Fairs

The Huffington Post ran an interesting article on theft and craft and art fairs.  Some of the theft is contributed to looking for money, other involves merchandise.  I displayed at many antique shows and fairs in the mid Atlantic region and never really had much of a problem, but it did occur.  I recall a show in my home town of Alexandria where someone tried to steal some jewelry and were caught as they were leaving the show.

Given that it is a societal issues, it is not unusual to find theft in the world of fine and decorative arts.

The Huffington Post reports

Thefts are an occasional, sometimes regular, nuisance for artists and craftspeople who sell their work at fairs and festivals, despite the sincere efforts of the event sponsors and the artists themselves to stop them. They take place at night, when the artists aren't around to watch their booths, and during the day when the artists are busy making sales and talking to would-be buyers.

Some thieves, like Hecker's intruder, are looking for money, while others may be more interested in the truck in which the art was transported; a drill was stolen from the tent of Gregory Reade, a sculptor in La Jolla, California, when he participated in a fair in Scottsdale, Arizona, while the art was untouched. David Bigelow, a printmaker in Ozark, Missouri, said that thieves have broken into his truck on several occasions, stealing the crates that contained his etchings -- he has no idea what the robbers assumed they might be taking. The lesson he learned is: "Only eat at a restaurant when you can sit at the window and see your vehicle."

Yet other thieves simply want a piece of art and not pay for it. "Two girls who had had too much to drink and had seen my work earlier in the day" crawled under the tent of Michael Baker, a sculptor in Salisbury, North Carolina, when he took part in a show in State College, Pennsylvania, grabbing one of his statues. Walking back to their Penn State residence hall, they were spotted by a campus police officer, at which point they dropped the sculpture (it wasn't damaged) and tried to get away. Instead, they and the sculpture were brought to the campus police headquarters, where their parents were called, and Baker was called, too. "I was brought down and asked if I wanted to bring charges against them, but I didn't want to do that," Baker said. "The next day, the girls came to my tent, and I gave them a lecture on how stupid it was to be going to college and doing something like that. I hope they learned."

No time of day appears to be more likely to see thefts than any other; fair sponsors around the country state that reports of stolen items are too rare to make an analysis (they often blame the artists for carelessness or a lack of vigilance), and insurers indicate that claims almost never take place. "We all know thefts happen, but we don't really know with what frequency," said Sally Bright, board chairman of the National Association of Independent Artists, many of whose members show and sell their work at arts and crafts fairs. Her own experience of theft took place in the middle of a fair when a woman came into her tent, picked up an object and walked out with it. "I caught her in the act. She was mentally disturbed."

Source: The Huffinton Post

No comments: