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Arrest in WonderRoot burglary; arts center lab to reopen

UPDATE 7/22/09: Atlanta police Lt. Richard Smythe reported back that the WonderRoot burglary suspect was arrested on a traffic violation in Walton County. Three computers were found in his car, which was impounded. He was charged with theft by receiving in Walton County and there are warrants for him for burglary and criminal trespassing in Atlanta.

Good news for local filmmakers: the community computers are back.

A suspect is in custody after a burglary at WonderRoot earlier this month that shut down the community arts center’s digital media lab, the non-profit’s executive director said Monday.

The AJC reported last week that five iMacs were stolen late July 10 or early July 11 when someone entered the Memorial Drive facility through a window with burglar bars. WonderRoot is used as a concert venue, recording studio and art gallery, but also as a dark room, video lab and education center for kids and adults. The digital media lab was used most often by graphic designers, video editors and filmmakers. Four classes planned to be taught there this month were canceled, too.

WonderRoot Executive Director Chris Appleton e-mailed this morning to say a suspect is in custody and three of the five stolen computers were recovered, “and there is hope the others will be recovered, too.” I’ve got a call in to APD for more info, but Appleton said the suspect had previously completed court-ordered community service at the center.

Although the computers were insured, Appleton said there was an outpour of support for the center. More than $500 of donations have already come in, and $500 more has been pledged. Some computers were donated, and organizers plan to buy some new ones for the lab. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s been inspiring how much people are willing to support WonderRoot and the Atlanta arts scene in general,” Appleton said.

WonderRoot organizers still plan to hold a reopening party for the bigger, better digital media lab at 8 p.m. July 26. The theme: Cops and Robbers.

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

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[...] I was just feeding my blog addiction when I stopped one of my new favorite blogs (Inside Access with Jamie Gumbrecht) and was surprised to learn that WonderRoot was burglarized las week. WonderRoot is a kick-ass non-profit community arts center. The good news is that a suspect is in custody and several of the computers have been recovered. Please click here to read the full article. [...]