FROM READERS: A letter to young thieves, from the owner of ARTlandish Gallery

Friday, May 23, 2014 | 9:47 a.m. CDT; updated 11:29 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 23, 2014

This story was written by Lisa Bartlett, the owner of ARTlandish Gallery. It was originally a note that she wrote and posted on her Facebook page. She wrote it in response to the theft of art and charity money from her store.

Recently we had some young women steal from us. Many people wanted me to prosecute. I wrote them this instead.

Dear Young Thieves, 

I'm sorry that your life finds you in such a place that stealing from artists and abandoned animals is ok. I'm not sure you even realize the implications of these two things and how your wanton disrespect for the hard work and diligence of artists affects so much more than the two of you. Your selfishness has caused hardship for...hard working artists and deprived animals for a second chance at life. Yes it means a puppy or two will die because you stole the resources for them to have a second chance. But what the heck, right? You needed that money for something important and you just wanted those things.        

The items you chose to steal are not mass produced, they are crafted by artists who have worked hard. Artists pour their heart and soul into their work and they add individuality to our society.  What have you added? The items you stole were not things necessary for living. It's not like you are living on the street and needed food. If that were the case, you can bet artists would be the first ones to help you. If you have been deprived in some way in your life that makes you have total disregard for artists and their work and stealing from a donation jar for abused and abandoned animals is okay, then you have reached a new low. Please, for your sake, work hard to overcome such selfishness.      

So many people have said I should have you arrested, but I'm not sure our justice system would help this situation. I don't want your life ruined or your parents to be out thousands of dollars for lawyers and court costs. I show you this compassion because I know you can change and become better people. I hope in the future you will volunteer at an animal shelter or find some art you love and work hard to buy it. You will feel so great if you do. Choose beauty rather than ugliness like stealing. My advice, live your life with love and passion and become creative spirits yourselves, find something that makes you feel good about yourself, it will change your world and make this world a better place.

I believe in you.

— Lisa Bartlett, ARTlandish Gallery

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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Mike Martin May 23, 2014 | 7:46 p.m.

Good for you, Lisa. An inspired response from a leader in the arts community.

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