Police investigate cash theft at MessFest

Steve Garrison, stgarrison@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Sheriff's Office is investigating the theft of thousands of dollars in cash from last weekend's second annual MessFest.

Teenagers participate in MessFest activities on Saturday at McGee Park. The San Juan County Sheriff's Office is investigating the theft of about $2,600 from the event.

Event planner Shawntay Wolfe said today about $2,600 was stolen Saturday night from a ticket booth at McGee Park, where the event was held.

She said staff members were busy issuing wristbands, and the money could have been stolen while they were distracted.

"I love these kids," Wolfe said. "It's not really about the money. It's a rough year for my business, so I need the money, but it's the emotional part — this was one of my kids that did this."

Despite the thefts, the event was a success, Wolfe said. She said the number of teenagers who attended the event, which features food fights, dodgeball tournaments and mud volleyball, doubled this year.

Teenagers take part in a foam and glow dance during MessFest Saturday at McGee Park.

Sheriff's office detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln confirmed today the theft was under investigation. He said event planners should take precautions to discourage thefts, including installing security cameras and limiting access to event funds.

He said organizers should also deposit cash in a secure location at regular intervals to ensure that, if a theft occurs, less money is stolen.

Wolfe, who also runs KidFest and the San Juan County Kids newspaper, said she was not certain whether MessFest would continue. She announced Monday on social media that the theft had occurred, and she said the outpouring of support that has been expressed has been humbling, but "(the thefts) make me wonder if I should be doing it."

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.