Art display case ransacked by unidentified thief


Photo used with permission from Charlotte Kruk.

12 rings made by students during 3D Design 2’s metalworking unit were stolen from the art wing’s display cabinet.

Sarah Zhang, Staffer

On Jan. 17, 3D Design teacher Charlotte Kruk discovered that her second-period students’ hand-made rings were stolen from the glass display case in the art wing hallway. In her 25 years teaching at Lynbrook, this is the first theft Kruk has encountered involving multiple students’ artwork. 

A total of 12 rings, made during 3D Design 2’s metalworking unit from October to December, disappeared from the glass cabinet. When Kruk unlocked the cabinet to add a student’s newly-completed ring to the collection, she realized that many of the display spots — occupied just a day prior — were empty. Shocked, Kruk immediately reported her discovery to the office administration.

“I was dumbfounded,” Kruk said. “I’m really heartbroken over it; a whole semester was blown up in smoke just because someone thought they deserved or needed to take the art of others.” 

According to the custodial staff, the burglar may have either picked the lock or lifted the glass door from the display case to take the jewelry. Only the shinier, more polished rings were taken, while the less lustrous rings were left in the case. Several pottery pieces that were also on display were left untouched. 

Junior Aimee Tran, whose two bronze rings were stolen, noticed the disappearance of the rings on the same day as Kruk. She had wanted to view her class’s artwork but discerned that several jewelry pieces were missing.

“I assumed that Kruk took them out, as she’s the only person with access to the key,” Tran said. “In retrospect, I regret not telling her that I noticed some jewelry had vanished, but at the time it never occurred to me that someone might steal our work.”

Kruk is considering holding a second metalworking unit for her students, so they can make new rings in order to replace any disheartened feelings toward metalworking with new, happy memories. However, a student has already dropped the class due to their distress over their stolen art. They spent months of class-time, brunches and tutorials laboring over their silver ring, but had given up all hope of it ever being returned. 

“I was really proud of my rings, because it was my first time working with metal, and I made something I could wear,” Tran said. “I’m disappointed and angry that my work, which was meant to honor someone, was stolen.”

Kruk has become wary of displaying jewelry artwork. She removed her students’ remaining rings from the pillaged cabinet, once she realized the lock could be easily picked and the sliding door easily removed. Though a small display of student-made jewelry remains in the district office, they are protected by a complicated lock and are under the supervision of administration. Going forward, Kruk intends to install stronger locks on the display cases in the art building and library. 

“I had put a lot of after-school hours and effort into making my ring,” junior Ritam Chakraborty said. “I am upset by the theft, but I still think displaying art is a nice way to show what the class is working on, once there are more secure exhibition spots.”

Kruk also cleared out the sofas and chairs from the art wing hallway, where students — many of whom didn’t take classes there — often lounged. She hopes this will discourage future burglars from spending excess time near the display case. 

“The hallway was my safe space, even as the displays took on wear and tear from students passing by,” Kruk said. “But this theft shattered my trust in others, so I decided to take it all away, as much as it breaks my heart to do so.” 

Kruk and her class encourage whoever  stole the pieces to return them. The rings may not have a lot of resale value, as they were not made out of precious metals. However, the rings are significant to the students that spent nearly one semester of time and effort on their artwork.

“It’s not a compliment when you take someone’s work; it’s really just a stab wound,” Kruk said. “I challenge the thief to take my class, so I can teach them to make jewelry coming straight from their own unique spirit as opposed to stealing the spirits of others.”