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First glassware, then a recycling bin, now a flower pot: WindsorEats faces repeated theft while hosting Mexican Village

Thefts at Mexican village
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Two days after the owner of WindsorEats said a recycling bin and a majority of their glassware was stolen during the first weekend of the Carrousel of the Nations festival, surveillance video shows an unidentified individual walking into the food hall and appearing to steal property.

To try and mitigate similar incidents from taking place when the Mexican Village returns next weekend, owner Adriano Ciotoli said he plans on paying for security guards to monitor the area during the festival.

On Saturday, a sign was put up at the bar of WindsorEats which reads: "Friday night, 80% of our glassware was stolen by customers. As a result, we'll be serving you from plastic cups today."WindsorEats sign explaining glassware theft in Windsor, Ont. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor)

"I think over 90 glasses were swiped by the end of the night which put a damper on things as we were closing up shop for the night," said Ciotoli.

Also on Friday, Ciotoli alleges one of his Herby Curby recycling bins was stolen, just a few weeks after another recycling bin was set on fire, he added.Adriano Ciotoli says one of his Herby Curby recycling bins was stolen at Windsor Eats. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor)

On Sunday, Ciotoli posted a video to social media showing an unidentified individual walking into the WindsorEats food hall on Erie Street East around 8 p.m. — while festivalgoers were inside — and coming out with a flower pot.

"The audacity, or the bravery, of that person to do it in broad daylight, just pulling up and walking inside a business and walking out with something that wasn't even small, was shocking," said Ciotoli, adding the flower display carried sentimental value.

"It was actually provided to us as a gift from St. Clair College for WindsorEats celebrating our 20th birthday. So it means a little bit of both myself and my sister, having graduated from St. Clair and being an Alumni of Distinction there."

Ciotoli has filed an online theft report to the Windsor Police Service.

In a statement, Windsor police said the likely protocol in a case like this is an assigned officer will follow up by "running the plate and getting further details of person who owns the vehicle."

"The officer who is assigned to this case will have to have conduct their own investigation, and if there are grounds to charge someone they will," said Const. Bianca Jackson.

As for Ciotoli, he said the string of alleged thefts have left a lasting mark.

"You try your hardest, especially with what we do, being so public-facing with our events, tours and everything that we're doing, to put on a happy face, to try and do something good and to try and showcase the city and your neighborhood in a positive light," he said.

"But you just keep getting cut down at the knees, every so often. It does make you question why you're doing some of the things that you're doing and whether to move forward with it."

Still, Ciotoli said he and his staff are trying their best to put on a happy face, especially considering he expects more people to show up for the second weekend of the Mexican Village compared to the first.

But, he added, those customers can expect to see a visible change during the remainder of the Carrousel festival.

"We're also having to bring in security at 25 or 30 dollars an hour to watch the door, check people's bags and do all that stuff. So it's not only just the monetary value.It's also the inconvenience to the customers which may make them feel uncomfortable to come in."

Regarding the missing glassware, Ciotoli said he has seen multiple comments from people online which suggest that WindsorEats deserved to have their glasses stolen because festivals do not normally ask for merchandise to be returned.

"Some have said it's our fault for using nice glasses and that we should have used regular glasses. Number one: what are regular glasses? Number two: we have basic mason jars that go missing on a regular basis," said Ciotoli.

"So it's not even a matter of the glass being nice or not. I guess being nice just elevated the speed as to how many were swiped."

The next day, Ciotoli clarified to CTV News he ran out the door immediately as the planter was being moved out of the food hall and immediately took it back before the vehicle shown in his surveillance video took off.

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