GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Wyoming artist is looking for several stolen items after thieves snuck into her tent at the Return to the River festival over the weekend. The crime resulted in nearly $1,300 dollars in goods being taken or damaged.
Brittany Ford tells News 8 she’s a small business owner and mother of two who needs every penny to support her family and grow her business.
Ford has been creating art her entire life, and formed a small business called Brittany’s Artistic Creations.
“I am a stay-at-home mom and it’s just been hard to make ends meet lately, so I’ve just been doing this on the side,” said Ford.
This past weekend, Ford sold her art at the Return to the River Festival. She said she was allowed to sell for free with a donation. Ford says the festival was great and the first day was profitable, until nightfall Saturday.
“They promised us that there would be security and when I got there on Sunday morning, half of my tent was gone, the whole canvas was gone,” said Ford.
Items were not how she left them.
“My wood burnings were thrown all over the ground on the bridge and I had my entire 50 … homemade candles just completely gone,” said Ford.
She says she wasn’t the only one.
“Other artists had a few things missing as well, but mine was the worst,” Ford said. “It was just hard seeing all of my hard work just thrown all over the ground — missing, stolen, damaged — it was extremely emotional. I sat on the bridge, and I just started crying.”
Ford contacted Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the event organizers.
“The city came and when we told them, they were absolutely devastated. They felt terrible. They are also local artists running the whole thing,” Ford said. “They went to figure out what was wrong with security because there was supposed to be — and they said that there was — only one guard, but after speaking to other people, nobody even saw that one guard.”
Ford said the vandalization put her business on hold.
“I’ve had to continue telling people, ‘I am sorry. I can’t complete your order right now. I don’t have any stock at the moment. I don’t have any of the money that I was supposed to be making on Sunday to make new stock,’” said Ford.
She wants whoever vandalized artists at the festival to come forward.
“I just want my artwork and my candles back and I just want people to respect local art, local artists. We work hard for this,” said Ford.
In a statement to News 8, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. wrote in part:
“Their hired security was able to recover some of the stolen items. We are working with the vendor to fully reimburse them for all the goods that were stolen. We will be reviewing our security plan and policies to make improvements in an attempt to avoid unfortunate incidents like this in the future.”
If you know anything about this incident, contact the Grand Rapids Police Department at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.