A man has been charged and two expensive sculptures have been recovered after brazen robberies at a South Granville gallery.
Dror Darel, director of the Vancouver Fine Art Gallery, says the man stole one sculpture on Friday and another on Saturday worth nearly $40,000 in total. Both sculptures are by the artist Rudolf Sokolovski.
Darel says he didn’t notice the first $30,000 sculpture was stolen because he was busy helping a customer. The next day, he saw the man stealing a $7,000 sculpture on his security camera.
“It took him eight seconds to walk in, lift up the sculpture and walk right out,” Darel said.
“I couldn’t have left the gallery because we’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of artwork in here.”
Darel says he called police, who immediately recognized the man in the footage as 50-year-old Francis Boivin.
“He’s a chronic offender. We know him well,” said Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Steve Addison.
Officers waited at Boivin’s home and within an hour of leaving the gallery, Boivin showed up with the stolen sculpture. Police also found the other sculpture after getting a search warrant for his home.
Boivin has been charged with two counts of theft over $5,000.
In a statement, VPD says Boivin has more than 115 previous convictions.
“Anytime we’re able to get somebody like this, catch them in the act, recover the property, obtain criminal charges on somebody, it’s a good thing,” Addison said.
Darel says he’s considering installing an electromagnetic door in the gallery to buzz people into the store to prevent future crimes and protect the gallery’s valuable art, which includes some original pieces from Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
But he says he doesn’t want to discourage people from coming in.
“It’s not the freedom that we’re used to,” he said. “It’s sad to see.”