Vendor reports theft at Christmast Arts and Crafts Extravaganza at Osage Centre

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Cape Girardeau Police Department responded to a report Sunday afternoon of a vendor who was robbed of their entire weekend earnings at the Christmas Arts and Crafts Extravaganza at the Osage Community Centre.

The facility was put on lockdown for about 20 minutes on Sunday afternoon while police searched for the suspect. A money bag containing an undisclosed amount of cash and checks was taken from a vendor's booth about 1:30 p.m. by a woman the vendor had noticed was watching her over the course of the weekend.

According the vendor, she had been approached by the woman several times Saturday and Sunday. She described the suspect as a short white woman with a stocky build, with shoulder length dark hair and glasses. She was wearing a heavy coat.

The vendor reported seeing the woman bend down near the location of the money bag while she was busy helping another customer. The discovered the bag was missing soon after.

The police department reports that no one actually saw the woman take the money or saw her leave the location.

The facility has no camera surveillance that would indicate how the suspect left the scene.

Melissa Miller, executive director of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, was in charge of the weekend event.

Miller said she notified police upon hearing of the incident and then decided to place the facility on lockdown until it was deemed safe.

"All of the people stuck inside the building and out were very understanding and patient, so I am very appreciative of that," Miller said.

She also notified staff at the Show Me Center, where the adjoining show was being held, of the situation at the Osage Centre.

Miller said she didn't know of any similar incidents that had occurred during the 39-year history of the arts and crafts show.

The council staff made the decision to refund the vendor's booth fee and give automatic rebooking status to the vendor for next year's show.

Miller said Sunday evening that other vendors in the show began a collection for the vendor and presented her with $480 to help make up for the loss she incurred.

Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact the Cape Girardeau Police Department at 335-6621.

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