Woman suspected of using kids to help steal art sculpture

This photo from a surveillance camera at Toh-Atin Gallery captures the image of a woman suspected of stealing a $2,100 sculpture Saturday afternoon by using children to distract the saleswoman. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Toh-Atin Gallery

This photo from a surveillance camera at Toh-Atin Gallery captures the image of a woman suspected of stealing a $2,100 sculpture Saturday afternoon by using children to distract the saleswoman.

Business owners are on the alert after an older woman allegedly stole a sterling silver buffalo sculpture Saturday from the Toh-Atin Gallery.

The Native American woman entered the gallery Saturday afternoon with two young kids who distracted the saleswoman on duty. The kids asked the employee to show them the bathroom, and the woman stole the sculpture, said Ray Shupe, spokesman for the Durango Police Department.

These kids were obviously told to just raise hell, said Jackson Clark, owner of the gallery. They were running all over grabbing expensive things.

The employee noticed the sculpture was missing about an hour after the theft and told Clark it has disappeared after going through sales records.

Clark saw the woman put the $2,100 sculpture in her purse on video footage taken from a security camera in the gallery.

Clark said he thinks the same woman stole a concho belt from the gallery last year, but he doesnt have proof because the security cameras were set up after the first theft.

Ive seen her around Durango, and shes very nice, very pleasant, he said. Youd never suspect that this person is a thief.

The Durango Business Improvement District sent an email to local business owners warning them to be on the lookout for the woman and included a still shot of the woman taken from the video footage.

Clark said hes going to schedule an additional sales person to work during slow hours in response to the theft.

I just want to help prevent other losses, he said. I realize the chances of getting (the sculpture) back are really, really slim.

jdahl@durangoherald.com

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