ABRAM-VILLAGE — Spaces at the Village Handcraft Co-op Store, where nine hand-stitched quilts hang, are empty no more.
Tuesday night, after the store had long since closed for the day, an RCMP officer carefully carried the colourful quilts — stolen almost two weeks earlier — back into their home, much to joy of the Lena Arsenault.
“It was unbelievable,” said Arsenault, the co-op’s treasurer. “We have them back.”
It has been a stress-filled time for Arsenault and the other members of the Village Handcraft Co-op, after someone broke into the store on the Cannontown Road and stole the nine one-of-a-kind handcrafted quilts.
It was two passersby who uncovered the theft.
Around 6:30 a.m., as most of Abram-Village slept, the women were walking by the store and noticed the door ajar. A call was made to the co-op’s president, who, upon arrival, found the door smashed in, the place rummaged through and the quilts, which hung throughout the space, gone.
The break-in and theft had the potential to be devastating to the co-operative, in operation for 47 years, since the quilts were all on consignment, which meant their loss wouldn’t be covered by insurance.
The quilts, of various sizes and patterns, range in value from several hundred dollars to $1,400 each.
Arsenault didn’t expect the good news when an RCMP officer called her around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Earlier in the day she called the officer to ask a question related to the break-in. She thought the call back was to answer that question.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I shook for a half an hour after,” Arsenault said with a laugh. “I called our president, Lorraine Gallant, and she was actually crying on the phone.
“It’s a relief. It has been a stressful week and a half. We are very glad to have them back and in good condition, almost the same condition as when they left us.”
The women who pieced together the quilts, all members of the co-op, have been informed of their safe return. Some have come to the store inspect their handiwork, relieved to see that countless hours spent sewing were not lost.
Arsenault has no idea who took the quilts, why or where they were finally found.
The police investigation into the break-in and theft is ongoing.
East Prince RCMP would not comment further on the case at this time.
“We are just very, very relieved,” said Arsenault, adding she believes social media helped in the speedy return of the quilts. “I put a comment last night on Facebook that they we got them back and we had more than 100 likes since.”
There are talks about increasing security measures at the store, which will be discussed at the board’s meeting next week.
And some good did come from the case.
“We’ve gotten a lot of publicity,” said Arsenault. “We have been really busy since this happened.”