Make us your home page

Florida Craftsmen Gallery takes step to protect against theft

ST. PETERSBURG — Outside the door to the Florida Craftsmen Gallery, a man in a white polo waits.

Gallery assistant Maggie Duffy looks up from the counter to see him and pushes a button.

A buzzing sound signals that the door is open. It's not the most personal greeting, but executive director Maria Emilia said the buzzer was necessary after a string of thefts.

• • •

First, it was two glass sculptures stolen in February during early morning hours.

Thieves knew exactly what they came for, found it and walked out.

Emilia watched the security videos in disbelief as the thieves made their way through the gallery.

"The familiarity they had, it was just spooky," she said.

A few weeks later a laptop was stolen, presumably during a gallery walk.

The gallery at 501 Central Ave. routinely staffs only one person in the front, making it difficult to monitor visitors while assisting others.

Then came the buzzer.

It gives employees a chance to see who's coming in, Emilia said. Other gallery employees can gauge if more help is needed on the floor.

So far customers haven't complained.

"We didn't know what to expect but there has been hardly any comments," she said.

St. Petersburg police recommend buzzers as a crime deterrent, said police spokesman George Katsja. They control traffic through stores with limited staffing.

Just a few doors down, three men broke into the Table last summer and assaulted an employee. Two sculptures were also stolen from the Arts Center.

Despite recent events, Emilia doesn't think downtown is any less safe.

"I think we are responding to a particular incident," she said. "I don't think that the area's dangerous."

Jackie Alexander can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or

Florida Craftsmen Gallery takes step to protect against theft 05/26/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 1:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members


    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  4. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  5. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]