Another reprehensible jackass has ripped off a small performance company--but this time he appears in a short film of the caper, courtesy of a security camera in Odd Fellows Hall. The criminal star burgled the office of dance company 33 Fainting Spells with chilling acumen--he had a key to the office and locked the door when he left.

The crime happened Thursday night, March 24, nearly two weeks after, and only two blocks away from, a similar burglary at Hugo House, where someone swiped a digital projector from a dressing room used by ReAct Theatre. The Hugo House burglary showed no signs of forced entry, suggesting that thief might have had a key.

The Fainting Spells bandit took equipment worth over $4,000, including microphones, a DVD player, recording equipment, and computers. "That's the worst thing," said company manager Alice de Muizon. "They took our hard drives with all our information--contacts, donors, everything. They basically stole our business."

Moral bankruptcy aside, the thief gives a compelling and suspenseful performance. I'm sure Vincent Gallo is kicking himself for not being the first to exploit security cameras as the new cinema verité. Installed near the ceiling, the camera overlooks two descending staircases and the wide, wood-floored hallway between them. The angle foreshortens our villain, accentuating his big head and just a hint of his bearded mug. He wears blue jeans, a black jacket and an incongruously dashing white scarf. He begins his crime at 11:40 p.m..

His first trip is determined and businesslike, with a steady, unhurried pace. The second time down, he seems edgier, trotting down the hall to the far staircase, only to pop up a few moments later, jogging back towards the camera as if running from someone. By midnight, he is gone.

33 Fainting Spells has been burgled twice before, both crude smash and grabs that seemed more addled crackhead than methodical pro. The company only knows of four keys to the office, each held by a trusted company member.

"We feel so targeted," said de Muizon. "It's a puzzle, but I'm going to figure it out if it kills me." The Odd Fellows and Hugo House crimes seem like inside jobs: In both cases, the thief got in and out easily and knew exactly where to find the goods. Or maybe it's just a burglar with a good idea--arts companies aren't known for watertight security.

33 Fainting Spells can beg and borrow equipment, but will have to rebuild its records from scratch. "The digital archive of the company is gone," de Muizon said. Except for their newest offering: an original, unreleased 20-minute film.

brendan@thestranger.com

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