Art stolen from Guelph cafe by man with a skateboard

A man wearing a ball cap and carrying a skateboard stole a piece of art off the wall of a Guelph cafe Wednesday evening.

'It’s not something you can walk off with easily,' artist says of stolen piece

The man who took a piece of artwork off the wall at the Red Brick Cafe was caught on the cafe's security cameras. (Red Brick Cafe)

A Waterloo artist is stunned that a man walked into a coffee shop in Guelph and stole one of her pieces right off the wall in front of other customers.

"I don't know what would possess somebody to feel entitled to walk off with a big painting like that," Agatha Fast said. "I think the person clearly wasn't concerned with – I don't know – the consequence."

Police are hoping to speak to this man, whom they believe may have stolen the piece of artwork. (Red Brick Cafe)

Fast had set up for a new show at the Red Brick Cafe in downtown Guelph on July 10.

On Wednesday evening, a man wearing a ball cap and carrying a skateboard walked into the cafe, ordered two chai lattes, and looked at the art, according to cafe owner Shelley Krieger.

After that, the man chatted with a musician, said his name was James, and waited for an opportunity to take the piece.

"[He] kept kind of checking, walked back, lifts the piece off the wall, walks out the back door onto the back patio, walks out the back patio door and just leaves with it," Krieger said, adding that the whole theft took just seconds.

"No one said anything, but I think he just did it with such panache and confidence," she said. "It's completely shocking."

'Not something you can walk off with easily'

Police were called to the Douglas Street business Wednesday at 9:37 p.m.

The suspect was described as being white with a tan, approximately 30 years old, having short brown hair with some facial hair and having a full arm tattoo on his left arm. He was wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap, shorts and a T-shirt at the time.

"He seemed to speak with a stutter and had a skateboard," police said.

The piece of work stolen was called My Daughter Works Here. It was a collage on a 48 inch square wood panel and was covered with a clear resin.

Artist Agatha Fast at the opening of her show Thursday at the Red Brick Cafe. (Timothy Neesam/CBC News)

"It's not something you can walk off with easily," Fast said.

The piece was on sale for $1,450 and was supposed to be part of the Waterloo artist's Off the Wall show at the Red Brick Cafe in downtown Guelph.

Fast's art is created from found items, including ticket stubs, old photos, stamps, grocery lists that have fallen onto store floors, old newspapers and peeling posters found on lamp posts.

Cafe already updating security system

She says having her work stolen will not deter her from showing her work in public places like cafes, restaurants and stores.

"The whole intention for the artist is to get the art out so that people can see it, and I've always believed in making art accessible," she said.

A photo of Agatha Fast's collage that was stolen on Wednesday. (Agatha Fast)

Despite the theft, Krieger said the opening of Fast's show was a success.

"The pieces are fantastic. They're very bright, vibrant collage pieces," she said.

A blank canvas and a story about the piece hung where the stolen collage had been.

Krieger said she was already in the process of updating the cafe's security system before the theft.

The plan is for staff at the cash register in the front room of the cafe to be able to watch what's going on in the back room and patio using cameras.

"We've never experienced anything like this before," she said. "We've done over 100 shows.… We do shows almost every month and nothing, nothing like this has ever happened before."

"We'll take whatever measures we can to make everything as secure as possible and hopefully the piece will come back."

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