Cow Palace bandits make off with gear

Thieves with a passion for rodeo gear roped in eight cowboy hats and a saddle worth almost $6,000 at the Cow Palace recently, police said.

An expensive custom leather saddle was stolen from a vendor at the Grand National Rodeo, held at the Cow Palace through Saturday, after the historic arena closed Friday night. Early Sunday morning, before the venue was open to the public, a hat retailer also fell victim to thieves, who stole eight black cowboy hats, all in size 7.5 and ranging from $115 to $290 each. Both thefts occurred during the change of the arena’s security guards, Grand National Rodeo manager Chad Cabral said.

Gary Brown, owner of Deer Creek Hat Co., said this was the second year his hats have been stolen.

“They knew exactly what they were looking for,” said Brown, who has brought his hat booth from Nevada City to the rodeo for the last 18 years. “I suspect it’s the same person — because they only took certain sizes and didn’t take any jewelry or even the money register.”

While police said they do not have leads in the two crimes, they said the Cow Palace has its share of thefts, especially during major shows.

“It’s pretty unusual to have a big show at the Cow Palace without anything getting stolen,” said Capt. Cory Roay, of the Daly City Police Department.

Vendors, who often leave their wares guarded by a plastic fence, rely on the Cow Palace security to guard the merchandise after they close at 11 p.m.

“It’s happened twice and it is irritating,” said Brown, who lost $1,330 to the thieves. “But I’m not blaming the Cow Palace for this — it’s such a big place.”

But Paul Turner, owner of Saddles & Silver Boutique from Texas who lost a $4,500 handmade leather saddle, was not so easy on Cow Palace security.

“They are just not doing a good job taking care of our property,” said Turner, who has had a booth at the Cow Palace for three years.

The total number of security guards at the Cow Palace has decreased this year, Cabral said, but there have been no reductions in the 24-hour guards.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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