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Over $20K in art Stolen from Booths at Park City Festival

Last weekend's Kimball Arts Festival was visited by thieves who came in the night and burglarized several tents. 

Police say sometime between 1am and 6am Sunday a person, or group of people, burglarized seven booths. Two of the items stolen were hand-carved wooden chairs valued at $11,000. 
"I found out about it as I was walking down the street this morning 39 back to my booth someone had some chairs stolen," said Ron Benoit of Woodensound Fine Woodworking.

They weren't Benoit's chairs, but the artist in the booth next to his. Along with the two chairs, several art pieces and a handmade jacket were stolen. A sculpture was also vandalized.

This is a long running and highly respected festival.

Learn more here:

What precautions do you take to prevent this from happening to you?

Views: 2330

Comment by C.C. Barton on August 17, 2016 at 11:24am

So much for the security service they hired.  Where were they when someone was actually able to pull a vehicle in in the early hours to load up their haul?

Comment by Carol Larsen on August 17, 2016 at 12:43pm

This is so disappointing to read about. I used to teach loss prevention to others at shows many years ago.

The problem here is not during the show but after show hours which are the most painful and usually expensive losses.

At one time, there were lock-down cables that could be run through the bottom of a tent and pick up through the zipper tabs of the sidewalls to make it a little more difficult. Ditto do the same with high ticket items - run cables with locks through them making it difficult to move them since they are grouped together as one. And want to make it even a little more difficult? run a line with noisy items like anything metal to "fall" onto a hard surface when an attempt is made to enter, think like the water bucket balanced on the top of a door when someone walks into a room. Sound extreme, losing $20,000 is extreme. If there are supposedly security guards, this may draw their attention. I realize it's a lot of work, but so is what is stolen.

Personally, after I had $3000 plus part of my fixtures taken during break down inside a building an hour after a show closed (I left to go get my vehicle after breakdown, I invested in a camera that you would never know is a camera it's part of a display too, there are many different types and many look like lights and similar that will feed back to your computer as to what is going on, some motion sensitive.

I also do not take my canopy down but actually put my walls right back up when I am breaking down until I am ready to pack up. It's my investment, and no amount of asking someone else to pay attention is going to work - ditto when you take a potty break, if you are by yourself, close up, put a note that you will be right back, and do so.

I set my booth up deliberately so I can tell the instant I look at the outside walls if someone has even touched them, which lead one event I am actually going to in a few weeks to finally put security at the doors prior to the advertised open hours which is another huge issue.


Last year, one clown threw up one of the doors (they were huge RV type doors, 1 hours early and was forced to go around and collect all the "shoppers" she let in - because she didn't see the big deal. Lesson learned. She didn't care about anyone else, but she sure learned it wasn't all about her after years of this happening as I would see my friends booths being ransacked because they hadn't gotten there yet.

One thing I encourage every one to do is demand that a show does not allow a single shopper in until the show opens at the advertised hour. Part of the way this can be "heard" is to simply say-"my contract reads that the show is open to shoppers from X to Y" if shoppers enter my booth prior to that, YOU are liable for anything that happens to them or my stock, including damage or theft. My contract is very specific and my insurance does not cover shoppers at other times. That usually gets them to hear you.

The same holds true at the end of a show, every single person in the exhibit area should be wearing identifying name tags - who they go with if only for breakdown. No name tag, they must leave. Period. For at least 2 hours after the event ends. This is to protect everyone's goods. And ditto the organizers must stay until the end - none of this - leave everyone on their own they are done. They are not done until the last person packs out.

And, there must be a shopper sweeper to explain the show is over, and to invite them back for next year. And guide them to the exit and make sure they leave. TO protect everyone.

Comment by Carol Larsen on August 17, 2016 at 12:50pm

While I realize what I wrote may sound extreme to some, when it's done to you, it will not appear extreme at all.

Being a transient exhibitor, theft is very easy to happen, and very difficult to prove and collect on. Like I said, I used to teach all about booth set-up/lay-out, you name it for during the show, but non-show hours are the worse, you aren't there.

Comment by Brenda Helt on August 17, 2016 at 4:29pm

I think it's crazy to rely on a few security guards to keep this from happening.  I load out the artwork every night and load in again the next morning.

Comment by Carol Larsen on August 17, 2016 at 4:40pm

You are right Brenda, and no one should ever approach closing up their booth especially outdoors as being exempt from theft, it's a false sense of security the guards give. 

Comment by Patricia Sadler Trainor on August 17, 2016 at 4:43pm

I had a booth at this show. There were approximately 265 booths along Main St. in Park City. It's an outdoor show. There are several side streets intersecting Main. The show ran about 2/3 of a mile, and for that they only had 2 security people. This is simply not enough. I think they should have had about 6. It would have been very easy for the perps to drive onto a side street and grab what they wanted and leave. They probably watched the 2 security people to see what their schedule was. Also, the total loss is now estimated at $25,000. Six booths were broken into, some vandalized, some stolen from. The one furniture maker's loss was $11,000. Very sad for him. This same show had a theft in 2012 of a large sculpture which was found in pieces later on. They seriously need to show a bit more concern for their artists. As for the rest of this show, it was very well organized, great sales, music, volunteers, etc. Just wish they would address the night security issue.

Comment by Karen Holtkamp on August 20, 2016 at 4:46pm

There are many things we wish organizers would do, yet somehow it fails to happen.  In the case of security, vandalism and theft, only two words needed:  Artist Insurance.

My insurance covers me, my work, my studio contents, my filled booth at a show, my loaded vehicle to and from the show, and general liability (this is a representative, not exhaustive, list). The premium is $285 per year.  Limit for loss of the work is $2M.  Limit for personal injury is $1M.

This is the only insurance bill I don't mind paying each year.

Comment by Karen Gelbard on August 22, 2016 at 4:53pm
 There is an expectation of Trust
The theft at Park City is very much still on my mind. I have been busy making inventory to replace what was stolen, filling out paperwork with the insurance company and trying to deal with being a victim. I have been through shock, helplessness, anger and now "how I can make this better" stages.
There is an expectation of trust with art fairs.The shows trust us to do our job of securing our tents and inventory as best we can. We will deal with it in different ways as per our medium. We, in turn, expect the shows to protect us. They do this by letting us know there are severe weather issues, theft alerts during the show ( "Roy Helms, will you please report back to your booth" was code over the loudspeaker that theft had been reported during a show), by providing volunteers to spell us in our booth, etc. As a small business, it is our responsibility to have insurance of some kind in place.
This trust has been broken with Park City. They provided security, but it was inadequate. I say that because the thieves spent such a long time in my booth. All the covers were removed, clothes were tried on and flung around, my locked desk was broken into and the contents spilled out on the ground. They even found my all weather jacket in a bag and completely unzipped it and turned it inside out. They attempted to remove the battery in the back of my booth. It had been moved, but was too heavy to steal. Fortunately, my locked desk only had paper bags, office supplies and paperwork. The bank bag only contained lanyards from other shows. The thieves left their green knit cap on the ground. Three of my jackets were taken. This is a loss of $2100. And I am only one of many victims that day.
My booth was directly across from the parking garage and near woodworker Kevin's. Whoever stole the artwork spent plenty of time choosing what they wanted. And that is the red flag. Obviously, two were not enough to cover a show of this size. I checked with the police. There are no leads at this time.
It is distressing to be a victim and suffer loss of artwork that we are so close to. Usually, my work is put into the caring hands of a client. I grieve thinking about where the stolen work is now.
I have insurance with ACT which will cover the cost of goods but is a drop in the bucket to the actual loss.
But what do I want from Kimball Art Fair? I want an official apology and reassurance that they will change their policy of security. I asked another experience show director to reach out to Kimball. I am hoping talking with her will spark some new ideas on how to approach security at the fair. I would like to see some new, best practices put in place for that venue.
I publicly said that this theft put a black mark on the show. Later, I regretted my choice of words. They were victims, too. How they handle this theft affects how we think about them. We need to work together to fix this. The show picks the best artists to come be a part of their event. There is an expectation that they will look out for us. I need some reassurance that they will change their security coverage.
Comment by Patricia Sadler Trainor on August 22, 2016 at 6:59pm

Karen, I am so sorry to hear what you went through. It should not have happened. And now the feeling of being violated in such a way. Two security guards is just not enough for that show. I think a bare minimum would have been 6. As artists we pay our booth fees, sign our waivers, etc. with the expectation that there will be adequate security. There wasn't adequate security at all. If I do this show again I will ask them how many security personnel will be there. They really need to be upfront and  make sure it's adequate. My pet peeve about shows is that artists do take all the risk, including but not limited to weather, acts of god, security, etc.

Comment by Patricia Sadler Trainor on August 22, 2016 at 7:02pm

PS--the show was not a victim. They are the ones who did not provide adequate security. Your choice of words is correct. Besides being a fundraiser for the Kimball Center, they need to be a promoter for the invited artists.


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