Festival tents draw thieves
July 31, 2005
Strolling through the two rows of the arts and crafts tents on the side of Horizon Casino Resort, one can hear the sounds of an airbrush used in fake tattoos, smell fresh-popped popcorn or see homemade artwork lined up on tables.
The minor festival has been a mainstay during summer weekends for 15 years but, under the cover of night, it sometimes lures thieves eager to swipe necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other items.
Last month, during celebrity gold weekend, thieves took 133 pieces of jewelry from three different tents. The summer before, a gold tent selling tailored towels and other goods seemed to be a target.
Merchants were reluctant to speak about the issue, fearing the attention it would bring. One woman, who did not want her name in the newspaper, said she has been the target of multiple thefts.
Thieves even broke into her car when she packed goods in her vehicle.
“Either I go out of business or replace my stock,” she said, adding, “It doesn’t matter. People like to steal.”
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Another merchant, Arlene Hellwig of Sweet Williams Crafts, has a metal cage-like enclosure under her tent that is effective when she locks up her stock for the night.
In 15 years at the festival Hellwig said she’s had “no problems.”
Casino security patrols the area at night. Douglas County Sheriff’s Department also keeps an eye out with an increased presence on summer weekends, said Lt. Steve Orr, head of the department’s patrol division.
Still, thefts are part of job hazards, just like rain downpours and other elements, said festival organizer Jeff Williams. No stranger to festivals, Williams also has his hand in Reno’s Hot August Nights and Sparks’ Best of the West Rib Cookoff.
“We don’t have a huge problem, but it happens once in a while,” Williams said.