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Genesius Guild looks for clues in theft of theater equipment

Genesius Guild looks for clues in theft of theater equipment

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ROCK ISLAND — Genesius Guild officials have reported the theft of thousands of dollars worth of equipment from its locked storage space behind the Lincoln Park Classic Theatre, in Rock Island. 

The theft included 12-foot and 10-foot ladders, a cabinet full of tools, a basket full of the theater company's wiring, lamps, a two-wheel hand truck, and probably 100 other tools and items, said executive director Doug Tschopp. 

Tschopp said the theft would have required several people and large trucks for transport. Some of it would only be of use to a theater, Tschopp said.

The theft likely happened in October, and was discovered early this month by Andy Shearouse, Genesius Guild board member and tech director who was working with the city electrician at the theater.

The organization has offered free open-air theater in Lincoln Park for 62 years, and has struggled financially.

“The amount of time this is going to add to the beginning of the (2020) season is unreal,” Tschopp said. “It was going to be a tough year anyway. The Illinois Arts Council changed its funding process, and we're not getting anything. ... It adds insult to injury.”

Last year, Genesius received more than $8,000 from the state-funded arts council, he said.

They suspect the theft was perpetrated by people who know theater equipment; for example, spike tape (used to mark placement of set pieces and performers on stage) was stolen, but masking tape was not, Tschopp said. It didn't look like there was forced entry.

“Right now, we hope somebody knows something,” Tschopp said. “We've got absolutely no way to build a stage and set. We're a unique theater. I know people love it. The weeks of work it's going to take — that's the hard part to wrap your head around. It's hard to get volunteers out there. The lighting snakes alone, that's a lot of hours. They're custom-made drop cords, connectors to go into the dimming system.”

Since 2015, Genesius Guild has worked to raise $600,000 to create an endowment, to ensure its long-term survival. It's raised about two-thirds of that, Tschopp said, but the past year has been more challenging.

“I think that's pretty typical in the arts,” he said. “To have this added stress is not fun.”

Anyone with information should call 309-732-2677, or visit qccrimestoppers.com.

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