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Woman charged in theft of painting

January 27, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg woman was arraigned Thursday after allegedly stealing a painting in December that was part of an art exhibit on display in the hallways of a Berkeley County government building, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Cynthia Lou Balshaw, 48, of 835 New York Ave., was charged with one count of petit larceny by Martinsburg Police Department Patrolman Wm. S.A. Spiker, according to records. Magistrate Jim Humphrey set a $2,500 bond for the case

In Spiker's complaint, he noted that the victim told police that on Dec. 18, she discovered her watercolor work, "Glasses," was missing from the Dunn Building at 400 W. Stephen St., where it was displayed with other works presented by the Arts Alliance of Berkeley County.

Upon investigating the incident, Spiker said video surveillance footage showed Balshaw removing the painting from the wall and walking down the hallway with it.

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On Christmas Eve, Spiker said Balshaw told him that she took another painting titled "Beyond the Blue Glasses" off the wall to look at it, but denied taking the one reported missing, according to records.

Spiker said surveillance video showed Balshaw carrying the painting and walking down the exit stairs before returning about 10 minutes later without the work, according to records.

All three Berkeley County Commissioners indicated they still were supportive of having art displayed in the building when informed of Balshaw's arraignment. The Arts Alliance of Berkeley County won approval from county leaders last fall to display the work, which initially was hung on Nov. 4.

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