Art thieves make off with Langley studio’s paintings

Thieves made off with dozens of paintings from a Walnut Grove art school and gallery after prying the door open.

Robert Barrett of the Neighbourhood Art Studio said one of the staff members arrived Thursday morning to find the door had been pried open sometime late Wednesday night or early in the morning.

“It wasn’t a smash and grab,” Barrett said.

Between 30 and 35 paintings, in oil, watercolour, acrylic, and even stained glass, had been taken down from the walls and packed away, along with the theft of the cash drawer. Some paintings appeared to have been left behind in favour of others.

The paintings belonged to a mixture of established artists and students at the gallery, which teaches about 130 artists.

All the paintings are originals.

The studio will be able to track precisely which paintings are missing, because the tags for the paintings and the names of the artists were left on the walls.

Langley RCMP were investigating the theft, and Barrett said the insurance company has been contacted as well.

Barrett said he wasn’t sure what the thieves’ plans might be.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do with them all,” he said.

They might try to sell them through flea markets, Craigslist, eBay or other online outlets.

Police estimated the value of missing paintings at about $18,000.

The Neighbourhood Art Studio has been in Langley for almost 24 years, first in Fort Langley and then in Walnut Grove on 200th Street and 92A Avenue for the past few years.

They’ve had one theft of a painting before, when on New Year’s in 2000 someone stole a $2,400 painting of Chief Dan George, said Barrett.

Despite leads to that painting popping up as recently as last year, it has never been recovered, he said.

Anyone who knows where the paintings might be or has other information on the theft can contact the Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200, or to remain anonymous, call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

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