ABRAM-VILLAGE – Seeing first-hand the empty spaces where nine lovingly made handcrafted quilts once hung reduced Lena Arsenault to tears.
Arsenault, a crafter herself and treasurer of the Village Handcraft Co-op Store, days after the theft still can’t quite comprehend why someone would break into the business and steal the one-of-a-kind quilts.
“My god, when I went in there on Saturday the tears just came to my eyes. We filled the gaps with other quilts,” said Arsenault. “It looks better now but that day... the tears just came.”
Two women walking along the Cannontown Road in the sleepy community of Abram-Village just after sunrise Friday noticed something amiss as they strolled past the store.
The door was ajar, odd for that time of day, which prompted one of the women to quickly return home and call the co-operative’s president.
When she arrived on scene, she discovered that the business had been broken into, the doors smashed and the place rummaged through. Missing were nine quilts.
The theft occurred sometime after the store closed for the evening Thursday and before the break-in was discovered 6:30 a.m. Friday.
The quilts were of various size and patterns, and ranged in price from several hundred dollars to $1,400, said Arsenault.
They were all on consignment to the shop from members of the co-operative, which has been in operation for 47 years.
“I still can’t believe. I’m in shock,” said Arsenault. “I never expected this to happen. Why would someone do this?”
The co-op has about 40 members. There had been a break-in many years ago but nothing of this magnitude, added Arsenault.
“They were obviously looking for money. We could see that,” she said. “They went through underneath the desk and all that. There was money there but they didn’t find it.
“Everything was topsy-turvy.”
The thieves also ransacked a quilting room located downstairs at the store. It was discovered Saturday that a digital camera that was in the room was also taken.
“We think they might sell them on eBay, Kijiji, we don’t know,” said Arsenault. “We have no idea whether it was someone local or it could be tourists that were in there one day and saw these quilts and thought they would be a good haul and gone to Toronto with them.”
Stella Gallant of Wellington had three of her quilts stolen.
A quilter for more than two decades, it had taken her several weeks, most over the winter, to hand stitch just one of the quilts.
She, like Arsenault, can’t understand why someone would take the quilts, but admitted each quilt can be quite valuable.
“You still don’t get much,” added Gallant. “If you had to charge by the hour it would be cheap. You can’t get the value of the hours you put in them but it’s a hobby.”
She surmised that the quilts likely left the Island the same night they were taken.
“Someone has probably even gone to the States with them.”
Unfortunately, as Arsenault found out Monday morning, insurance won’t cover the loss since the quilts were on consignment.
The loss could be detrimental for the co-operative.
“It’s a non-profit, so we are not expecting to make a whole lot of money but we make enough to run year to year. What affect this is going to have if we don’t retrieve them, we just don’t know yet,” said Arsenault. “Please, please bring them back to us. I don’t know what else to say. We need to have them back.”
Photos of some of the quilts can be viewed on the store’ Facebook page —www.facebook.com/pages/Abrams-Village-Handcraft-Co-op/458816490856223.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 902-436-9300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). The police investigation is ongoing.