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UPDATE: Hundreds of Red Wing pottery pieces stolen

Stacy Wegner looks through the Red Wing Collectors Society's storage unit after hundreds of pieces of Red Wing pottery were stolen from it. "They don't know it, but they were stealing from kids," she said, adding that the missing pieces were used for the society's Kids View program.2 / 3
This photo, taken last summer, shows some of the missing pottery. Wegner said many of the pieces were marked with round colored stickers and put in boxes that had "Kids View" printed on them.3 / 3

Since the Tuesday discovery of the theft of hundreds of pieces of Red Wing pottery from a storage unit, Stacy Wegner has been calling every nearby antique store she can find, hoping for some trace of the missing ceramics.

"It's extremely heartbreaking," she said.

Wegner, the Red Wing Collectors Society executive director, said the society had rented the unit, located near the Red Wing High School, to store supplies used during its annual convention.

While things like tents and display signs were left behind, boxes containing hundreds of pieces of pottery designated for use by the society's Kids View program were taken.

"It supports our young collectors," Wegner said of the program.

Stolen were more than 100 Red Wing restaurant blank plates that children could paint during the convention.

"What makes (that activity) unique is they use real authentic pieces of Red Wing pottery," said Sue Jones Tagliapietra, co-chair of the Kids View program. "It's getting very, very difficult to find the plates and we've stocked up and it's all gone."

Other pieces of pottery that society members had donated to the program for use during a children's auction were also missing.

The society's storage unit had been broken into in September, Wegner said, though nothing was taken at that time. Wegner estimated that the theft occurred sometime within the past two weeks.

Wegner said it's hard to put an exact price tag on the stolen items because many of them had never been sold before. Still, she said their values total in the thousands of dollars.

"It is valuable," Wegner said. "But to the kids, it's priceless."

Now, with nothing for the kids to paint, Jones Tagliapietra and Wegner said the future of that Kids View activity is uncertain.

"Obviously, we'd like to catch the person that did this. But we just really want this pottery back for the kids at the 2012 Convention. We would prefer that whoever took this stuff, just return it," Wegner said.

Since the theft was discovered, Jones Tagliapietra said the support from society members has been "terrific."

"I have extreme confidence in our membership and we'll figure out something," she said. "The kids will have things to do (at the convention) in July."

Still, she said the theft left its mark.

"It just kind of made me sick," Jones Tagliapietra said. "Sick and sad, I guess. Just unbelievable."

The Red Wing Police Department is currently investigating the theft, Police Chief Tim Sletten said.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.