The Artisan Center Theater in Hurst turned into a crime scene earlier this month when burglars broke into the theater's offices and stole thousands in cash and electronics.
Richard Blair, the ACT's executive producer and co-founder, says the burglary happened sometime in the late hours of Monday, Feb. 11, or the early morning of Tuesday, Feb. 12, and Hurst police investigators are possibly looking at a suspect or suspects who are familiar with the theater center on East Pipeline Road.
"Some uninvited visitors broke in and did a lot of vandalism," Blair says.
Theater employees discovered the burglary Tuesday morning. The building has an alarm system, but it wasn't triggered, Blair says.
"There are many people who would know a lot of things about it and would have had an opportunity, but we were dark," Blair says. "We just closed Newsies and because of that, it was absolutely the best time for this to happen to us. There was minimal impact on the box office and a minimal amount of cash was taken."
Once inside the offices, the burglars broke into safes and cash drawers and took as much cash and as many high-priced items such as iPhones and iPads as they could find. Blair says the burglars also caused some damage to the building's heavy-duty doors by hammering on them and used "brute force" to open the safes. They also left a large pile of clutter for the staff to pick up once police officers completed their investigation.
According to a Hurst Police report, the suspects stole items such as seven credit cards, 100 $1 Chick-Fil-A gift cards and cash, costing the theater a total of just under $1,000 in lost items and damages to the property.
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"Other than the damage and the iPads and iPhones they carried out and we have to deactivate that, which was a hassle, it could have been far worse," Blair says. "I know it sounds bad, but that's the best way you can do it."
The community of Hurst responded to the burglary with $4,000 in unsolicited donations from over 100 of its patrons and supporters.
"We have the greatest patrons in the world," Blair says. "When they heard about it, they started calling the box office and writing checks and going to the website to donate money."
So all things considered, the burglary could have caused a lot more trouble for the theater, Blair says.
"The real story wasn't the break-in," he says. "The real story was the people who came forward and have been helping us recover from it."
The theater also didn't have to deal with much disturbance, except for when the box office had to close while police completed investigating and the theater staff cleaned up the mess. The theater was still able to open its live performances of the musical Annie Get Your Gun that runs until March 30 and continue its run of Mary Poppins Jr. until March 16 at the center's children's theater.
"The show always goes on," Blair says.