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Theft of utility vehicle a sad conclusion to ArtFest Kingston 2018

A Kubota utility vehicle similar to this one was taken from City Park following ArtFest this year. The vehicle rented by ArtFest producer Lory MacDonald was larger than the one pictured here and had an additional back seat.
Submitted photo.

The organizers and artists behind this year’s ArtFest Kingston were met with bad news following this year’s event: a theft could end up costing the festival’s producer about $18k.

After three wildly busy days that saw thousands of people come through Kingston’s City Park to view the works of over 200 artists and artisans from across Ontario, organizers’ chances to celebrate their success were abruptly halted. ArtFest producer Lory MacDonald arrived to City Park in the early morning Tuesday, Jul. 3, 2018, only to discover a Kubota utility vehicle (also referred to as a 4×4, an RTV, or an UTV) had been stolen.

The night before, MacDonald and her team finished packing up at around 10:30 p.m., she said, and the Kubota vehicle was locked to a trailer at the back of the building in the north end of the park. During the hours she and her team were gone, someone, somehow, managed to take the vehicle from the park.

“Someone had pulled out with the trailer, and ran over a garbage can, which got wedged in a wheel, so they unhooked the trailer, and now the Kubota’s gone,” MacDonald said.

“I’m hoping it may still turn up and it’s abandoned… But I don’t know if it was a planned thing, or if it was just, I don’t know, a joyride or something. It’s pretty upsetting.”

While it is unknown how the vehicle was taken from City Park, MacDonald has learned that the keys to Kubota vehicles (like many utility vehicles) may be universal keys – as it, the keys to one utility vehicle can be used in any other utility vehicle of the same brand and line. The theft has been reported and Kingston Police are currently investigating.

The vehicle, which MacDonald had rented to help with the setup, running and packing up of this year’s ArtFest, will cost approximately $18,000 to replace, MacDonald explained with a heavy voice.

“I would have to do a complete replacement,” she said of what it will cost her if the vehicle is not recovered.

“I have some insurance. I’m not sure what that’s going to mean, but it’s a really high deductible because it’s a commercial policy.”

And what adds insult to injury is just how quickly the theft spoiled the whole long weekend for MacDonald and her colleagues, she expressed.

“It’s so heartbreaking. It really leaves a kind of a sad, bad taste in your heart about the city of Kingston,” she said, noting that all of the artists are also upset by the incident and left wondering how and why someone would do such a thing.

“The impact is huge, and it effects a lot of people, really, in the end,” she said.

“There were a few tears today, I can tell you that.”

MacDonald said she has reached out to the public over social media hoping that anyone that has any information – or may have simply seen such a utility vehicle in a place where there isn’t normally one – might come forward.

“I’m really, really hoping it turns up. Someone might hear something or see something, or see it sitting someplace weird… who knows,” she said.

“I just want to ask people to keep their eyes open.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Kingston Police at 613-549-4660. Tips can also be provided anonymously  by calling the Kingston Police general number (613-549-4660 ext. 0) and asking to be anonymous, or by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

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