A small creative space called 11th Monk3y Industries was burglarized on Christmas, leaving owner Ruben Gonzales to wonder why someone targeted his Grand Avenue shop.
“I’ve been there for almost seven years and never had much of a problem,” he says of the red brick building that houses 11th Monk3y.
The building sits beneath a controversial billboard with anti-Trump artwork, but Gonzales suspects a disgruntled former employee rather than someone upset about the art. Gonzales says he filed a police report after discovering shelves emptied of merchandise. Missing items include two bicycles, an iPad, and more.
“Christmas was my only day off, but I wanted to go to the shop and tinker around,” recalls Gonzales. At first he noticed empty clothing hangers on the floor. Then he realized that hats, hooded sweatshirts, and other clothing printed with 11th Monk3y Industries branding were missing. “They took all my Black Lives Matter T-shirts, too.”
Gonzales hopes to get back at least some of the stolen items, in part by sharing descriptions of what was taken. The list includes a “blown-glass skeleton arm with a hand holding a taco” from a nearby creative space called Snood City Neon, plus an army green-colored 1954 Raleigh Sportsman bike that was a gift from Gonzales’ mom.
He’s already reviewed video footage from an exterior security camera located on a building across the street from 11th Monk3y Industries and says there’s a 12:01 a.m. timestamp showing that the incident took place very early Christmas morning. Gonzales says his own in-store camera stopped working on October 9.
“You can see the person scoping out the spot,” Gonzales says of the video. “I feel targeted; it doesn’t feel like a random robbery.” Gonzales believes the perpetrator used a key; he says he hasn’t found signs of forced entry. He's planning to post the video on social media.
Marisa Valdes, an artist who’s had space inside the shop for several years, agrees that Gonzales was likely singled out. “I don’t have anything missing,” she says. Valdes learned of the burglary after Gonzales tagged her in a December 26 Facebook post about what happened. “My heart got a sinking feeling,” she recalls.
Gonzales is already working to improve security for his shop. “Saturday I got a new lock system, and I’m hoping a friend can put in an alarm system for me and maybe upgrade my camera,” he says.
Erik Erspamer, art program director for Phoenix College, organized a GoFundMe crowdsourcing campaign with his partner, hoping to raise $10,000 in online donations to help Gonzales “replace merchandise, do some repairs, and make rent.” As of Monday night, December 28, more than two dozen people had contributed a total of just over $2,000.
Like many small business owners, Gonzales says that 2020 has been a rough year. He temporarily closed the shop nine months ago, citing concerns about COVID-19. For several weeks, he made face masks to help pay the bills. “I’d been doing pop-ups in the last month, but they took the majority of that stuff,” he explains. “The stuff I sell on my website is gone too.”
Gonzales plans to make new merchandise as soon as he gets money for materials. In the meantime, he’s wishing the year hadn’t ended on such a low point. “It’s really shitty that someone would do this on Christmas.”
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