‘We got Scrooged:’ South Haven art center burglarized

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SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. -- Several thousand dollars worth of art, jewelry and cash were stolen from the South Haven Center for the Arts Tuesday night.

The non-profit gallery was broken into sometime Tuesday night after 6 p.m. after someone threw a brick through a backdoor window of the building located at 600 Phoenix Street., according to Emily Wondergem, communications manager for the center.

"I was confused as to who would come into a non-profit organization and steal from a non-profit and on top of that steal from artists and crafters.," Wondergem said.

"This is their livelihood... It made me sick, it was disappointing."

Wondergem said the burglar or burglars ransacked the office, emptied out the cash drawer and made off with the laptop used as a cash register. Several pieces of jewelry were also stolen along with money from a tip jar meant for students in the South Haven High School Art Honors Society.

South Haven police were alerted to the matter Wednesday morning. Wondergem said police were on scene dusting for fingerprints and working to identify a suspect.

Wednesday afternoon, Wondergem said volunteers spent the day doing inventory to determine what exactly was taken from the center. Given the uniqueness of the stolen goods, she said she hopes that will help easily identify what was taken and who took it.

"They're very unique so its going to be noticed but we hope anyone who knows anything will contact us or police directly so we can hopefully get things back," Wondergem said.

Wondergem admits the timing of the burglary couldn't be worse, given the busy upcoming shopping weekend and the center's biggest fundraiser of the year Mistletoe Market, which provides local artists with an outlet to sell their pieces during the holidays. Regardless, she says they have no choice but to move forward and follow through with their plan to re-open by Friday.

"There's a lot to do and a lot of organizing but it's uplifting doing it for others and the community, so when something like this happens, we got Scrooged, we got Grinched, it's the ugly side of Christmas," she said.

The center is insured which means the artists will get reimbursed for their stolen goods, according to Wondergem, who said they plan to beef up security and install a security system and cameras.

The case remains under investigation, anyone with information that might lead to an arrest is asked to call the South Haven Police Department.

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