Art Thief Hits Willoughby (Or, More Likely, a Metal Thief)




Merchants in Willoughby wanted to court new business by installing a sculpture garden downtown. What they’ve attracted so far are thieves: Twice last month, pieces were robbed from the Divine District display.

The merchants’ association launched its sculpture garden in September, with 23 pieces donated by 14 artists, says Jackie Bertolette, co-owner of My Song Boutique. The culprit appears to be a scrapper: Both of the stolen pieces were metal.

The first heist involved a copper and steel abstraction evocative of the phases of the moon, which had been installed in front of the Spray U Tan salon. The other was functional — a bike rack by artist Jerry Schmidt from Collinwood. He and his son made it out of steel head boards from old beds.

“Last week some guy calls me up and tells me he saw the guy steal it,” he says. “He didn’t get a license number, but he says it was a white guy in his mid-20s, him and his wife or girlfriend, in a red Dodge truck with boards up both sides. The guy got out of the truck and threw it in the back. It’s probably scrap right now."

Schmidt has repossessed his other sculptures, but Bertolette is undeterred: Since the thefts, they’ve continued to receive new pieces and just installed two more last weekend.


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