Weekly Feature

2018-07-05 / Front Page

Roycroft officials refute claims about security for summer art show


Roycroft officials are speaking out following several larcenies that occurred during the weekend of the Roycroft Art Festival.

According to the East Aurora Police Department, three vendors reported having items taken during the night of June 23. However, according to Alan Nowicki, program director for the Roycroft Campus Corporation, only two of the vendors were participating in the show sponsored by the Roycroft Campus, while a third artist who had items stolen was a vendor with the East Aurora Art Society’s show, located on the grounds of the East Aurora Middle School.

Police say the first victim of the theft during the Roycroft’s event reported 25 gold and silver bracelets had been stolen from her tent. Another woman said three 12-by-15 framed collages worth $75 were taken during the same night.

The artist with the East Aurora Art Society told police 30 8-by-12 canvases and three 16-by-20 photo mats were taken when a suspect crawled under the canvas tent during the night on Friday, June 22, according to police.

Nowicki said the theft was unprecedented, adding most artists do not leave any items besides display cases and tables in their tent overnight. Nowicki also said the woman who had the jewelry stolen admitted she should have taken the items with her when she left.

“She said, ‘It was my fault for not taking everything with me,” Nowicki said. “Even if they had something in their tent, we wouldn’t want them to be taken.”

Police officials had said they were unaware of any overnight security at the event. However, Nowicki says the festival did in fact have three security guards patrolling the grounds.

“We do a search for security people that are willing to stay overnight,” he explained as to how the hiring process works. Nowicki also said the campus did not use a specific agency to hire the guards.

“In the past, we’ve used individuals who have a background in security,” said Amizetta Haj, manager of Roycroft Campus Marketing and Visitor Engagement. This year, however, Nowicki said those who were hired did not have a background in security.

“They have done security in years past without any incidents,” Haj noted. Both Nowicki and Haj said they couldn’t comment on how the East Aurora Art Society handles their security.

Following the incident, both Nowicki and Haj said extra steps will be taken to prevent this from happening in the future.

Some of those ideas, Nowicki said, include renting lights to illuminate the area at night. However, he cautioned the plan would have to be approved by town leaders before anything definite is put in place. Haj added the organization is also looking into working with the police department for future shows.

“I think we’ll probably just remind artists in the future the best practice is not to leave valuables overnight in their tent,” Haj said. “We’ll continue to look at how we can improve security moving forward.”

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