It was an unfortunate Christmas Market in Millarville for one longstanding artist and vendor at the event, who had 24 pieces of her original artwork stolen from her booth.

Calgary based artist Deb Gibbs with Stix and Stones Nature Art, has been attending the annual market for several years and says the incident occurred on the night of Saturday November 10 as the market was closing.

"Six of them [art pieces] actually walked off the front of my display this year, the crowds are really supportive, but there is a lot of people attending the markets, so I expect some thefts every year, there's usually one or two that walk away. I lost the majority of them, 24 more, just after the market closed on Saturday night. The vendors were all packing up and we were all heading out and on Sunday morning I noticed two boxes of 12 had disappeared from behind my table."

Gibbs says she believes the art thieves had likely scoped the area prior and swiped the art as the crowds began to disperse.

"It was around 5:10 p.m. when we left the booth and the market closed at 5 p.m., most vendors were already exiting the building. It would be quite easy at that point, if booths had been scouted out by thieves to wait until everyone had left and pick up a box and carry out. It's unlikely that the theft was recognized, with so few people left in the area."

Gibbs says shes noticing larger crowds each year and with more attendants from a greater area, theft is likely to be more common.

"On Saturday we had over 10,000 people come, so it's not just locals. I mean, people come from all over, it's really well attended this market. Millarville has always been supportive, because the theft this year was quite high. Not just for me but for other vendors as well."

Gibbs notes that she expects to lose a few pieces every couple year to thieves and they are getting more brazen.

"I know last year my mother was manning my booth for me, three ladies came in and one tapped her on the shoulder so she turned. When she turned back the other two ladies had disappeared, but also two pieces of my art."

Despite the troubling year Gibbs says she loves attending the annual market and hopes wherever the stolen art ends up, it goes to someone who will appreciate the piece.

"My hope is that whoever ends up being the receiver of my art, just to enjoy it. They may purchase it, unknowing that it's been stolen. Ultimately that's why I'm an artist, just to bring joy to other people, with my work."

Anyone with information on the missing art can contact Gibbs directly at [email protected]


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