Restaurateur Handles Art Thief Way More Effectively Than Police Would

Stolen ArtWhen Tyler Christensen realized that piece of artwork had been lifted from his Flagstaff restaurant, The McMillan Bar and Kitchen, he was well within his rights to press charges against the thief, who had been caught by the security camera. The piece, called "The Raven II" belonged to local artist Emma Gardner, and was for sale for $500 -- nothing to sneeze at.

Yup, Tyler could've gone straight to the cops, they could've tracked the guy down, recollected the art, maybe make an arrest, reports could be filed in case the artist wanted to sue to get her money back, etc. But he didn't. Instead he used the power of social media to shame the thief, and it's gone viral.

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"Dear Thief," Tyler began an open letter on his restaurant's Facebook page. "We enjoyed having you as our guest up until the moment you decided that the art we had on public display would look better in your private collection," he wrote. "I’m sure you were aware that this artwork is for sale, and could have been yours, all the artist and myself ask is that you fairly compensate the artist for their creative work. Instead, you opted to crudely stuff the artwork in your backpack and remove it from the premises. I understand why one would covet this artwork, we did as well, which is why we put it on public display."

And then because this is clearly one bad ass dude worthy of mucho respect, he caught a freeze frame from the surveillance video of the thief caught in the act, and hung it in place of the missing artwork.

He wrote, "Being a staunch supporter and defender of the arts, and serving my belief that everyone should have access to fine art: I offer you this framed image of you in the act of stealing in exchange for Emma Gardner’s painting. Until you return the art, this image of you will adorn our walls where her painting once hung."

Boom. Unfortunately, the art was reportedly lost after being hung on a tree somewhere, but the accomplices pictured with the thief felt so guilty they donated the $500 to compensate the artist.

Tyler told the Arizona Sun that the cash was beside the point, and he just wanted to make sure justice was served. "I was entrusted with her art, it was removed from the wall, so I felt accountable to make sure she got it back," he said.

He's not interested in pressing charges against the robber, and considers the matter over and done. "We’re going to try to do this the old-fashioned way," he explained. "It’s worked for us because the town rallied around it. That’s the beauty of this story, the fact that everybody got behind it, everybody shared it and everybody got really involved in making sure that Emma (Gardner) was taken care of. Flagstaff actually won in this case."

Do you think Tyler is a genius for how he handled this situation, or should he have let the cops sort it out?


Images via The McMillan/Facebook

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