An unknown suspect swiped 1,000 single-day admission tickets valued at $12,500 from the Gilroy Garlic Festival corporate office, according to Festival Executive Director Brian Bowe.
The lilac-hued tickets, which were noticed missing July 2, have already shown up for sale on Craigslist and Facebook.
“They’re out there,” said Bowe.
It is estimated the theft occurred sometime within the last five or six weeks according to Bowe, who confirmed there were no signs of a break-in.
Bowe suspects the crime took place after hours when volunteers – who are hustling to prepare for the upcoming Garlic Festival July 27, 28 and 29 – were coming and going from office headquarters at 7473 Monterey Street in downtown Gilroy.
However, “we do not think that this was anyone in the Garlic Festival family that did this,” Bowe emphasized.
Bowe made it clear that he does not want to make any speculations as to who the thief might be.
“This is the time of year where there are lots of different people coming and going in and out of our office at different hours for meetings and different reasons,” he explained.
Beyond having to deal with the theft, the fact someone essentially stole from the community is the most disappointing aspect of the ordeal for festival officials.
“That’s really the most frustrating and heartbreaking aspect of this,” said Bowe. “The Garlic Festival supports all these local charities and nonprofits. That’s our mission.”
The ticket thief “is almost directly stealing from those groups,” said Bowe.
This month’s incident marks the second occasion that Garlic Festival tickets have been stolen.
“Sadly, this is not the first time it’s happened,” said Bowe.
Bowe does not have the particulars of the first incident hand, however. The initial theft happened prior to Bowe becoming the festival’s executive director seven years ago.
This time around, the 1,000 stolen tickets were sealed in several cases inside Bowe’s office. Half of those tickets are adult general admission valued at $17 a piece. The other half consists of child/senior general admission valued at $9 a piece.
Bargain hunters beware: If you’re browsing for a cheap festival ticket on Craiglist, EBay or Facebook, you’re throwing your money down the drain.
Since the festival uses different colored tickets for various things, the 1,000 stolen tickets are “very identifiable,” noted Bowe.
As the lilac-hued, general admission tickets are visibly different from admission slips purchased online or at Raley’s grocery stores, “these particular tickets will definitely stand out and we will be confiscating them.”
General admission tickets are available this weekend at the ticket booths stationed in Christmas Hill Park – so if anyone is “walking in over the levy and they have a lilac ticket and they haven’t approached our ticket booth, we’ll know right away by the color,” warned Bowe.
A press release sent out today also warns the public that Garlic Festival officials will be on alert and keeping an eye out for the stolen tickets, will be impounded at the gates. The tickets can also be identified by their serial numbers.
“The individually numbered tickets are invalid and will be confiscated from any person attempting to redeem them at entrance gates,” the press release warns.
The stolen package of adult general admission tickets are numbered 050001 through 050500. The stolen child/senior admission tickets are numbered 100001 through 100500.
Gilroy Police officers confirm that tickets from these two packages are being illegally sold in South County through Facebook and Craiglist, according to the press release.
When asked if the Garlic Festival will file charges if a suspect(s) is arrested, thinking ahead to those unpleasant details simply aren’t on Bowe’s priority list right now.
“I’m really not wanting to comment on that right now,” he said. “We’re focused on having a great festival and those kinds of things are not something we’re considering.”
Check back for updates from the Gilroy Police Department on the pending investigation of the stolen tickets.