10:18AM, Thursday 14 June 2012
Furious Art on the Street organisers say callous thieves have put the hugely popular events in jeopardy.
Criminals snatched 20 fencing panels used for the creative showcase overnight on Monday.
The heavy mesh panels were stored behind the Bovilles Art Shop in the High Street. Each was marked in permanent pen with ‘AOS’ and the feet of the panels were spray painted with the Art on the Street logo.
They were discovered missing by the manager Marie Leonard.
"I was gutted to be honest," said the 37-year-old, who has run the shop for eight years.
"I couldn’t believe someone would do this because it has no scrap value.
"It’s a pretty low blow and it puts future Art on the Street markets in jeopardy because we don’t have the money to replace the panels."
The not-for-profit art events are one of the few town centre success stories, regularly pulling in more than 100 artists who pay a nominal fee to display and sell their work.
The markets can increase town centre footfall by a staggering 14,000 on the day.
She said December's Art on the Street market now faces being cancelled unless the panels are found, replacements donated or if funds are raised to replace them.
Steph James, Maidenhead’s town centre manager, said: "We are very disappointed that given the hard work that is put into Art on the Street and bringing life into Maidenhead High Street that someone could steal the panels and threaten future markets."
Police confirmed the thefts and asked anyone with information to call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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Police raided addresses in Lillibrooke Crescent, Cox Green, and in Crown Lane, Farnham Royal, at about 7.15am.