City Gallery at Waterfront Park has suffered three thefts from the Contemporary Charleston exhibit. Participating artists were asked to fill museum-like stands with objects from their studios that aided their artistic process. Because of the nature of the exhibit, some of the pieces on display were in reach of gallery visitors.

The exhibit was going well until one of the staff members noticed that an item was missing from one of the cases. Upon closer inspection, staff members discovered that not just one, but three items were missing from the exhibit. The missing items included a sketch by Julio Cotto, an ink drawing and poetry book by Lynne Riding, and a published poetry book by Dennis Ward Stiles.

“People come to this gallery to enjoy the art. We have never had an experience before where someone came in intending to take something that wasn’t theirs,” says Ellen Dressler Moryl, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs.

After the discovery of the thefts, the gallery made immediate changes to prevent further incidents. Some of the items have been placed securely on the gallery walls. For future similar exhibits Plexiglas hoods will be used making it impossible for someone to walk by and simply grab something. The gallery is also focusing on making some long-term changes to enhance security. Gallery staff is working with the police department to build an improved understanding of the layout of the entrances and exits of the building, so that they are better prepared to see problems before they happen. Additionally, the staff is working to create a system that will allow employees to serve both customer service and security purposes at all times.

There are currently no suspects.

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