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Two large glass sculptures, valued at $6,800, are stolen from the Florida Craftsmen Gallery

ST. PETERSBURG — The two thieves knew exactly what they wanted.

They weren't concerned with the laptop in the office. They ignored the cash register. They avoided the multicolored jewelry that lay in clear cases and other one-of-a-kind works of art that fill the Florida Craftsmen Gallery in downtown St. Petersburg.

Instead, sometime between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the pair broke into the gallery at 501 Central Ave. through a never-used outside door to executive director Maria Emilia's office and made a beeline for two glass sculptures — a Duncan McClellan vessel worth $5,200 and a $1,600 Chuck Boux vase.

Their moves were so smooth that no one even noticed at first that anything was gone.

"None of the things that you'd obviously steal were missing," Emilia said Thursday. "It wasn't until I looked up and saw the empty pedestals that we realized."

Now, the nonprofit that represents artists throughout the state is offering a $500 reward for information about the robbery, which was caught on surveillance video.

"When something like this happens, it's substantial," she said. "It just creates a really unsettling atmosphere."

This isn't the first time someone has taken something from the gallery. A large glass sculpture disappeared at the end of August.

"We thought it was just an isolated thing," Emilia said. "Now that we've had two other glass things stolen, we're beginning to think somebody's building a collection from our artwork."

Two large glass sculptures, valued at $6,800, are stolen from the Florida Craftsmen Gallery 02/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 9:14pm]

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