Saturday, August 30, 2003

Glass sculptures stolen

Hotel loses items it values at $66,000

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Someone stole artwork valued at more than $66,000 left unsecured in a conference room at a hotel this week, police said Friday.

Four intricate glass sculptures were stolen between 8 and 10 a.m. Monday from Wingate Inn & Meridian Conference Center on Tylers Place Boulevard adjacent to Interstate 75 near Wetherington.

Three of the sculptures were valued at $8,000 but the fourth one, an abstract blown glass sculpture of a brilliant blue tropical fish by Italian artist Lino Tagliapietra, was worth $42,000.

"The general stuff taken, stereos and CDs, turns up at flea markets," said West Chester police Sgt. Steve Oakes. "This is not stuff you see at a flea market."

A housekeeper reported seeing a man walking into the room - but not returning, said Edward Lekson, general manager of the $8 million hotel.

Because the hotel usually hosts several business groups during the week, the employee didn't immediately think much of it. But after noticing that the man hadn't come back out, the housekeeper went inside - in time to see a brown Ford Econoline van with a spare tire on the back speeding away, leaving behind empty display cases, the hotel manager said.

"We were very stunned," Lekson said. "It was not something you'd expect at 10 a.m. on a Monday morning."

Since the theft, the hotel, which opened last December, is beefing up security, especially for its pricey artwork, which is scattered around the hotel in other conference rooms, lobby and a hallway and behind the front desk.

"The display cases were not alarmed and that was a mistake," Lekson said. "We are not as na‘ve as we used to be."

Police have no suspects, but they lifted a fingerprint from the scene and are continuing their investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call West Chester police: 777-2231.


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