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Staying Safe From Theft


Metalsmith Tanya Crane at her booth at Craft Boston

Dec 13, 2016 | Makers + Matters

How can craft artists better protect themselves from theft at a show?

“The best thing they can do is to be aware – and be educated,” says Ned Ahnell, vice president of event services for CES Security, Inc., of Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Here are Ned’s key pieces of advice:

  1. A show thief can be anyone. “It’s not necessarily the person who’s vacuuming the exhibit hall,” Ned says. “It has been proven over time that there’s not a pattern, as far as who’s doing this. These are isolated cases; there’s no mass ring out there right now. Most of the time, it’s people looking for an easy ‘hit.’”
  2. Set up your display to avoid “blind spots.” Thefts during show hours usually involve display items that someone can “swipe and keep on walking,” Ned says. Make sure you can see, as well as possible, what’s happening. This can be especially challenging at a corner location.
  3. After hours, cover your display. “Some people drape sheets over the booth; some people use sheets and police tape,” Ned says. “Anything that can slow somebody down. Because typically, when something’s going to “walk,” it’s because it was easily accessible.
  4. If possible, take highly valuable items with you for the night. The inconvenience of resetting your booth in the morning is far less than that of a major loss.
  5. Never leave your booth unattended at closing time! After many hours “on”, it’s not uncommon for an exhibitor to run for a bottle of water or a change of clothes before closing up or tearing down, Ned says. “That’s when a lot of this stuff happens.”
  6. Be observant – and trust your instincts. “Make a mental note of somebody who comes by your booth two or three times, or asks a strange question, or hovers around and doesn’t ask you anything,” Ned says. “I can’t tell you, especially in the crafts industry, how many times an exhibitor has said, ‘You know, I just didn’t have a good feeling about this.’ If something seems weird, it probably is.” If you do have suspicions or even a funny feeling, don’t keep it to yourself! In a discreet way, let other exhibitors and/or event security know. With luck, it’ll be nothing – but if it isn’t, you might just prevent a theft.
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