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CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago woman is desperately searching for five hand-sewn Polish folk costumes that were stolen from her car last weekend.

Marlena Dzis spent most of Christmas Day poring through alley trash cans for the costumes. She told The Chicago Sun-Times that she also called pawn and resale shops, hoping whoever took the outfits would try to sell them.

Someone smashed a window of her car, which was parked in the Wicker Park neighborhood, Saturday night or early Sunday morning and grabbed the garment bag that contained the costumes, she said.

“For someone to steal something that represents your culture, your heritage and your family, it’s just so sad,” Dzis said. “These costumes are so hard to replace.”

Made in Poland, each outfit represents a different region of the country. They are used in dance and other performances and are on loan from The Lira Ensemble. The professional performing arts company specializes in Polish music, song and dance.

“People see their families in us, their mothers, their grandmothers,” said Dzis, who expected to wear the costumes in two upcoming performances. “They see them in our faces and in the music we sing. It means the world to be able to do that for someone.”

Dzis, 31, is a school fundraiser. She was born in Poland and moved to Chicago with her parents when she was a child. She sings with the ensemble.


Information from: Chicago Sun-Times,