An unknown suspect swiped 1,000 single-day admission tickets valued at $12,500 from the Gilroy Garlic Festival corporate office, according to Festival Executive Director Brian Bowe.
The lilac-hued tickets, which were noticed missing July 2, have already shown up for sale on Craigslist and Facebook. But bargain hunters beware: If you’re angling for a cheap festival ticket on Craiglist, eBay or Facebook, you’re throwing your money down the drain.
Since the festival uses different colored tickets for various things, the 1,000 stolen tickets are “very identifiable,” noted Bowe. “These particular tickets will definitely stand out and we will be confiscating them.”
Garlic Festival officials will be on alert and keeping an eye out for the stolen tickets which will be impounded at the gates. The tickets can also be identified by their serial numbers.
“The individually numbered tickets are invalid and will be confiscated from any person attempting to redeem them at entrance gates,” a press release issued by the Garlic Festival warns.
The stolen package of adult general admission tickets are numbered 050001 through 050500. The stolen child/senior admission tickets are numbered 100001 through 100500.
Beyond having to deal with the theft, the fact someone essentially stole from the community is most disappointing for festival officials.
“That’s really the most frustrating and heartbreaking aspect of this,” said Bowe. “The Garlic Festival supports all these local charities and nonprofits. That’s our mission.”
The ticket thief “is almost directly stealing from those groups,” said Bowe.
It is estimated the theft occurred sometime within the last five or six weeks according to Bowe, who confirmed there were no signs of a break-in.
Officer Chad Gallacinao with the Gilroy Police Department said the police are conducting a criminal investigation.
“We are very concerned regarding the stolen tickets,” he added. “We are taking this very seriously.”
Bowe suspects the crime took place after hours when volunteers – who are hustling to prepare for the upcoming Garlic Festival July 27, 28 and 29 – were coming and going from office headquarters at 7473 Monterey St. in downtown Gilroy.
However, “we do not think that this was anyone in the Garlic Festival family that did this,” Bowe emphasized.
“This is the time of year where there are lots of different people coming and going in and out of our office at different hours for meetings and different reasons,” he explained.
This month’s incident marks the second occasion that Garlic Festival tickets have been stolen.
“Sadly, this is not the first time it’s happened,” said Bowe.
Bowe does not have the particulars of the first incident, however, which happened prior to Bowe becoming the festival’s executive director seven years ago.
This time around, the 1,000 stolen tickets were sealed in several cases inside Bowe’s office. Half of those tickets are adult general admission valued at $17 a piece. The other half consists of child/senior general admission valued at $9 a piece.
General admission tickets are available this weekend at the ticket booths stationed in Christmas Hill Park – so if anyone is “walking in over the levy and they have a lilac ticket and they haven’t approached our ticket booth, we’ll know right away by the color,” warned Bowe.
When asked if the Garlic Festival will file charges if a suspect(s) is arrested, thinking ahead to those unpleasant details simply aren’t on Bowe’s priority list now.
“I’m really not wanting to comment on that right now,” he said. “We’re focused on having a great festival and those kinds of things are not something we’re considering.”